The House Band kicked off worship for the Saturday evening session with My Feet Are On The Rock and Jesus Savior, Pilot Me.
Suzanne Cobb came on stage to give a few announcements, one of which was more background on the Scripture readings we’ve had each session. Scripture has been read once in English and then again in a different language shared by youth. Suzanne shared that reading Scripture in other languages was important for inclusivity and connecting our faith to other parts of the world! She encouraged any youth who speaks another language to share that gift of reading Scripture with us in future conferences.
North Raleigh UMC’s Illuminate gave an excellent visual performance to “Even If,” reminding us that our hope is in God alone, and our faith can move mountains. The arena was dark, and they told a story with their hand movements using white gloves under a blacklight!
Madeline Gibson, from Hamstead UMC, shared a testimony about her mental health battles, overcoming the shame of asking for help, and the struggle of feeling unworthy of God’s love and grace. She shared with the audience how she has since tried to be a light-bearer in other’s lives to help them heal like she was also healing. Madeline says she is now “unapologetically me,” and encourages everyone else to be the same.
The House Band continued to worship with Holy Spirit and You Say before the entire coliseum participated in the Rainstorm.
Following that, Tyler Collins, Hailey Luther, and Chloe Avon from First UMC Morehead City performed a contemporary dance to Scars.
Cooper Sykes, Conference Youth President, provided an update on Eat for Relief, our mission meal this year. We raised $6971 in one afternoon for disaster relief in North Carolina. This plays into the pledge our conference youth made back in September of 2018, of raising $500,000 over the next year for disaster relief.
Over the past year, we have raised a total of $567,361, and $500,000 of this donation will be matched by the conference! Thank you to everyone for your efforts in making this possible, and we encourage you to continue giving!
The Scripture reading tonight was from 2 Corinthians 12:9, which reads: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Scripture was read tonight in English and Swedish.
Bishop Leonard Fairley, who currently serves as the Bishop for the Kentucky Conference of The UMC, was the speaker again for tonight’s session! The message he shared began with reflecting on his faith journey and challenging us to consider our own. He asks us, What sustains you on the long haul? For him and for Paul, as seen in our Scripture reading for today, it is grace. Grace is all we need when we find ourselves in the valleys; grace is enough.
For us to truly understand this concept, we need to define grace. Bishop Fairley searched for a definition and found that grace is an act of kindness, courtesy, or clemency. God extends to us a kindness, a courtesy, and a disposition of mercy that we could not ever earn, but because God loves us so much, He wants us to have it. We aren’t offered this grace because we deserve it, but because we are God’s. God will leave the 99 to find the 1 who went astray and will chase us to the ends of the earth so that we can be with Him again because that’s how much He loves us. God is more than able to bring us out of the darkness and into the light, and Bishop Fairley wants us to understand that God’s grace, and love, impacts everything it touches.
Bishop Fairley urges us to remember how big this grace is, and that it is sufficient in every part of our lives. He shares, “There is no such thing as a perfect journey… and we better be connected to the right source if we’re going to make it through.” He challenges us to ask ourselves, “What grace do I need from the Lord? In what areas of my life do I need to be made aware of this?” Bishop Fairley shared how the sufficient grace of God has looked in his own life, and he asks us to leave tonight searching for how the sufficient grace of God appears in our own lives.
The House Band led us in an extended time of worship to end the session. The altar was open for prayer before everyone was dismissed to their places of rest before the final gathering on Sunday morning!
*Article written by Casey Cabaniss and Laura Shachtman