March 8, 2010
By Kristyn Potter
For 92 years, the National Association of the Church of God Campmeeting has been providing a spiritual oasis for people of all ages.
The directional leadership and pure motivation found on Zion’s Hill is just what this years Campmeeting was focused on, Embracing the Kingdom as Servants. While the message is for the entire congregation, the lens must be zeroed in on the young people whose efforts, spirit, faith and integrity will transform our world and convert our reality.
The youth, a remarkably fresh and motivated cohort, are a strong and vital component of Campmeeeting and have given the Church of God members on the hill an awakening and served as a beacon of relentless hope for their peers and young admirers.
The activities that the youth were able to attend this year were Mini-YEPAW in the mornings, various conferences in the afternoon, Youth service, Career Expo, and several additional afternoon and evening activities. The additional activities for the youth included Movie Night, Game Night, Basketball Tournament and Gospel on Skates.
The Russell C. Phillips Career Expo has been in occurrence for four years and is open to all, but targeted to the youth.
“We want the audience to be the young people going into the labor market,” Celeste Warren, coordinator of the Career Expo and member of the West Oak Lane Church of God in Philadelphia said.
The Expo is typically held on the Saturday of Campmeeting; However, this year it was held on youth day- Friday. Various professions and projected career paths were featured at the Expo, including but not limited to, Journalism, Financial Industry, Social Services, Entrepreneurship, and the Medical Field.
The total amount of people who frequented the Expo was about 40 people, with 15-20 people attending the workshops, Warren said. The amount of youth at the expo was actually less this year than other years although the change in schedule had an anticipatory increase.
Warren is currently in the process of figuring out a better way to increase the turnout of the Expo, including possibly broadening the directed audience at Campmeeting and adding it to the events at the National Inspirational Youth Conference and Youth Camp.
“If not this year, we will definitely try [to have the Expo at NIYC] next year,” Warren said. “We want to reach a larger audience.”
Several youth on the hill were unable to attend the Career Expo because of conflicting schedules, like Killian Boyd. Boyd, member of the Boynton Street Church of God in Pennsylvania, who was at dance practice for the Mini-YEPAW performance held before evening service Friday night.
“I like how we get to interact with the adult service,” Boyd said.
The Mini-YEPAW performance was exceptional, and sufficiently unexpected, as the talent of the church’s young people was seen. The performance featured praise dancing, miming, the Mini-YEPAW choir, drumline, and step.
Other youth members have been focusing their time at Campmeeting on being servants to the children, helping out with Children’s Corner. Children’s Corner, which is for all children ages 3 through the 6th grade, features Sunday school, study hour, SonShine hour, and Choir Rehearsal.
Jeremie Biggs, of the New Testament Church of God in Brooklyn, NY., spent most of his time working with the children and helping out with the children’s choir. Nineteen year-old Biggs has been attending Campmeeting for 3 years now and is very appreciative of the experience.
“It keeps you out of trouble,” Biggs said. “Before I went to youth conference I had a negative mindset and it has calmed me down…it keeps me focused.”
Roland Matthews, 14 year-old from the Xenia Church of God in OH., and Jordan Cole, 12 year-old from the North Side Church of God also in OH., have been attending Campmeeting with their grandparents since they were kids.
Matthews has been helping with Children’s Corner at Campmeeting but enjoys the youth conference most. Both Matthews and Cole agree that youth conference is the best part of the experience.
“Brother Josh can relate to us,” Cole said.
These youth also explained the way they serve in the church and other facets of their lives.
“Just recently, I went out and helped get kids to come to our church [with other members], Cole said.
Cole plans on getting more involved with Campmeeting in the years to come and, like the others, is very appreciative of the community on the hill.
“Campmeeting is a good experience,” Cole said. “You get to meet people and it’s a safe environment.”
Martin Rogers, 15, formerly from the Arlington Church of God in Akron, OH., has been attending Campmeeting with his family all of his life. Rogers was heavily involved in his past church and will continue to be involved in the next church his family finds in Florida, as well as being more involved at Campmeeting.
As a youth veteran of the hill, Rogers has found every aspect of the experience praiseworthy.
“I like the whole thing…all of it…seeing people I knew when I was young, working at Children’s corner, and seeing family,” Rogers said. “You get the fellowship, do fun stuff, and get a break from normal life.”
No matter the walks of life these youth have traveled, or the amount of time they have been present at Campmeeting, one thing is certain: The presence of the Lord on this mountain is unparalleled.
On a little hill on a large mountain in West Middlesex, PA., the Church of God has created a spiritual haven where these “lambs” can serve others and be shepherded for years to come.
*Published in the National Association of Church of God newsletter and website