LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. – Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center will host the 3rd annual Ebony Youth Christian Vocation Exploration Retreat the weekend of April 9-11, 2010. The retreat is designed as an intentional spiritual formation weekend in which African-American youth, grades 9-12, have the opportunity to explore Christian vocations and God’s call on their lives. The retreat is sponsored by the Annual Conferences of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church and all Annual Conferences are encouraged to send young people to the event.
The leaders of the African-American Church within the United Methodist community see the ever-present need to begin preparing the next generation to accept the mantle of leadership within the Church. It is the hope of the African-American leadership that students who attend the retreat will not only experience fellowship with other African-American youth of their faith, but that they will also discover their spiritual gifts, engage in spirit-filled worship and take part in a mentoring relationship, all while they discover, explore and celebrate a call to ministry.
“This is an exciting way for African-American youth to come together from across the Church and learn about all of the wonderful ministries that the Church has to offer and where God may be calling them to serve. They learn that God can and is willing to use their gifts, not only as pastors, but in other areas of ministry as well. It is so inspiring for them to see that there are other African-American young people in The United Methodist Church who are on this same journey of discovering where God is leading them. So many of them feel isolated from other young African-American United Methodists,” says the Reverend Dr. Carl Arrington, Director of African-American Ministries at Lake Junaluska. Last year’s conference had nearly fifty attendees, and event organizers are hoping to double that number this spring by asking all Annual Conferences to attempt to send at least eight or nine young people.
Minister Michele Watkins
Among the leaders Lake Junaluska is proud to host for the retreat is Minister Michele Watkins of St. Mark United Methodist Church of Chicago. Having spent four years as a minister-in-training at Maple Park UMC, Watkins now works with young adults and the lay visitation ministry at St. Mark. A native of Chicago, she is also pursuing her Masters of Divinity at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and is in the candidacy process for becoming an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. During the retreat, Watkins will be part of the panel discussion on different forms of ministry, and will also preach during the Sunday morning closing worship.
Rev. George Coates
Reverend George Coates, a young, musically-talented minister, will be coordinating the music for the event, as well as sharing his own ministry testimony and forming a choir from among the attendees. He has been involved with music for many years, and plays twelve instruments at expert level. Reverend Coates was ordained as youth pastor at New Smith Grove Baptist Church in Lexington, NC at the age of 18 by the Rowan Baptist Association, and has since served as a minister of music at different United Methodist churches across the state of North Carolina. He received a B.A. in Sociology from UNC Pembroke, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity at Hood Theological Seminary.
The retreat will feature the motivational music and testimony of spoken word artist Emory Anderson. Anderson is a young African-American music artist whose initial ventures in God-inspired poetry have turned into a ministry that has led him to produce two albums and open for such artists as Building 429 and Kierra KiKi Sheard. He has also worked with BET’s Sunday Best, Zomba Gospel recording artist Crystal Aikin, and the “First Lady of Gospel Soul,” Lisa McClendon. Anderson founded Blessed With a Gift Ministries in 2003. Youth will have the opportunity to hear Anderson’s inspirational music, and learn how God used his talents and gifts to bring him into ministry and further the Kingdom of God.
Church leaders are asked to share information about the conference with youth whom they feel are being called into ministry, or who have expressed the desire to go into ministry. The registration fee for the conference is $90 per person, and those interested are asked to submit an application by February 12, 2010.
For additional information on the conference or registration, please visit www.lakejunaluska.com/ebony, or contact Rev. Dr. Carl Arrington at 828-454-6739.
Written by: Andie Robbins, Communications Intern