Experiencing the Essential in Action: Reflections on the 2012 CME Connectional Youth and Young Adult Conference (CYYAC)
By Amina S. McIntyre
Where can you find 4,000 plus youth, young adults, clergy and Christian educators gathered in one place to worship, fellowship, be educated, commune and network in God’s name? The answer is at the Christian Methodist Episcopal church’s Connectional Youth and Young Adult Conference (CYYAC). Presented by the Department of Christian Education every quadrennial since 1984, this year’s conference, held July 2-6, 2012 in Orlando, Florida at the gorgeous Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel, was centered around the theme: “Making ‘IT’ Essential: Reaching, Teaching, Training and Sending.” It focused on “nurture, empowerment, mission worship, play, singing and fellowship,” emphasizing Acts 2:42-47.
For those who arrived early, early registration was offered and attendees had an opportunity to participate in a Sunday Evening Praise and Worship hour featuring the host church, Carter Tabernacle CME’s choir, dancers and jazz band. The official opening of the conference was at 12 Noon on Monday, culminating with corporate prayer in the Rosen Shingle Creek Rotunda, followed by pre-conference activities and conference orientation. That evening, the opening worship service included comedy by comedian Miz T, music from the Connectional Young Adult Ministry (CYAM) Choir, with Bishop Sylvester Williams (2nd Episcopal District) delivering the Opening Address. Tuesday, the official “Reaching” day, started with the Youth Nurture Groups and Young Adult and Adult Bible Studies. All participants gathered for Communion, then, armed with a message from Bishop Lawrence L. Reddick III (1st), attended individual sessions, conference presentations, choir/dance/orchestra rehearsal and late night conversations.
Wednesday, the CYYAC12 “Teaching” day, similar to Tuesday in structure, included special events such as the CME High School Graduate Luncheon with special guest speaker, actress Robin Givens, and an electrifying performance by Beyond Words Mimes. That evening all conference participants celebrated the 4th of July with a Banner Parade and Praise Fest, filled with food, fellowship and music from 10 of the 11 district choirs. After the Praise Fest, the Spirit was so high that a group of young adults stayed in the ballroom to pray, praise, be healed, anointed and receive personal breakthroughs until 4:00am.
On Thursday, the CYYAC12 “Training” day, all youth and young adults participated in two separate mission projects. The youth packed care packages, including underwear and tee-shirts and basic toiletries that were donated to the Orlando Homeless Shelter. The young adults partnered with Stop Hunger Now, a national organization dedicated to providing meals for impoverished areas, compiling a total of 40,000 meals and donating $20,000 to the organization. After the completion of the various service projects, the conference had a free day, visiting Disney and exploring Orlando. The last day of the conference, Friday, was also the “Sending” day in which CYYAC12 held a commissioning service led by Senior Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt Jr. (7th), which included the induction of the newly elected Youth Presidents and Young Adult Ministry officers for 2012-2016.
Outside of the classes offered, there were vendors, a Youth Lounge, College Fair, three Prayer Rooms (with labyrinths, prayer circles and pillows), a Children’s Ministry and Camp LifeSaver, providing lifeguards for safe swimming. Special thanks to Bishop Thomas L. Brown (4th), Bishop Theresa Snorton (5th), Dr. Carmichael Crutchfield and Dr. Willa Ross, for spearheading the conference. For more information on CYYAC12, please visit www.cmechurchced.com/CYYAC12. For more highlights, including conference notes, photo albums and interviews, see www.cyyac12.blogspot.com.