Kansas West confirmands experience UM connection
Written: 5/24/2011 1:19:33 PM
By Ben Hanne, special contributor
Typically offered to seventh-grade students, the process of confirmation prepares students to become full members of their local churches by teaching them about Christian beliefs and history as well as what it means to be United Methodist.
The rally, which is open to all churches in the Kansas West Conference, is a two-day, immersive faith experience focused around the vision, “Know, Grow, Show.” With the hard work of youth workers from around the state and support from conference staff and the Conference Council on Youth Ministry, the rally is designed to be a companion to the confirmation classes of local churches.
“We want our students to know what it means to be a United Methodist Christian, to grow in their understanding of how to live their faith out in their worlds and to show others God’s love while at the event,” said Justin Lefto, associate director of the Kansas West Conference Connectional Ministries – Student Ministries.
Friday night included “icebreaker” games and an energetic worship service. The evening closed with a message by Paige Nelson, the director of youth ministries at East Heights.
On Saturday morning, the youth worked with YouthFront from Kansas City to package more than 51,000 meals for Haiti, which continues to struggle in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.
Bishop Scott Jones joined the students on Saturday, teaching them about scripture and Wesleyan heritage in a game-show format alongside CCYM President Tyler Ward and Ashley Prescott Barlow-Thompson, the youth ministries coordinator at Andover UMC.
Representatives from United Methodist organizations like Open Door, Western Kansas Mexican American Ministries and GraceMed Health Clinic were on hand to teach the youth about service opportunities.
“With the help of the bishop, the students realized that United Methodists are unique in the way we live out this Christian faith that spans the globe. We help them see where they can get involved in the body of Christ at their age by learning about United Methodist organizations, camps and events they can be a part of, and then we present an opportunity to show this faith through mission work,” Lefto said.
As the rally closed with worship and communion on Saturday afternoon and a message from Amanda Baker, associate pastor at Wichita Calvary UMC, the youth were given an opportunity to provide written feedback. They filled in the statement, “I learned that … ” with responses like “any age can do God’s work,” “you don’t have to work just at a church to serve God,” and “United Methodists can help someone at anytime, anywhere.”
“We do the Confirmation Rally because it makes a difference,” said Lefto. “This year, the students went away knowing that more than 50,000 people will be fed in Haiti because of their efforts. How can that not be impactful in their lives?”
Ben Hanne is the pastor at Arkansas City St. Paul and Grandview UMCs.