Bicultural teens enjoy unity at camp
LUBBOCK, Texas — The late-morning temperature was 101, and shade…
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — More than 400 students from 33 Churches of Christ in 13 states gathered at the University of South Carolina Upstate for the recent 71st annual National Youth Conference, known as NYC.
The conference traces its roots to the late Orum L. Trone Sr., longtime minister for the Elmwood Park Church of Christ in Detroit, and his wife, Christine.
Related: Bicultural teens enjoy unity at camp
In launching NYC in 1952, the Michigan couple recognized the scarcity of Christian fellowship activities beyond local events. The national endeavor’s primary objective is to ensure that each participant is exposed to spiritually focused workshops and activities crafted to bolster their well-being.
Victor Cathey, a member of the NYC board of directors, attended his first National Youth Conference 30 years ago at the University of Illinois.
“I couldn’t imagine, as I stood singing ‘How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts,’ that I would one day be a leader of the National Youth Conference to carry on its grand history for generations to come,” Cathey said.
Now a deacon of the Central Pointé Church of Christ in Dallas, Cathey said the conference history is guided by the Lord.
Fellow board member Lamont Ross, who is senior minister for the Marsalis Avenue Church of Christ in Dallas, echoed Cathey.
“The conference is designed to inspire youth from across the country to grow in their faith and utilize their giftedness for the glory of God,” Ross said. “By addressing contemporary issues from a Christian perspective, the National Youth Conference is equipping and empowering a generation for kingdom and community impact.”
NYC’s Bible Bowl, this time over Philippians, returned as a conference event for the first time in several years.
Patrick Worthey Jr., NYC coordinator and singles minister for the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas, said, “It was a joy to see the excitement exhibited by the participants as well as those who watched the competition. We look forward to even deeper involvement in the coming years.”
Other activities included bowling, skating, a talent show, group skits, sports and the eagerly awaited scholarship pageant, which showcased winners from state youth conferences through speeches and talent competition. The conference finale was the All Conference Chorus, featuring youth as soloists and budding directors.
Board member Gary Jones, minister for the Eastside Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, said that youth workers are a big piece of the NYC equation.
“More than merely being a chaperone, our youth workers understand that they serve as mentor, protector, encourager and even spiritual safe space for our kids as they figure out how to balance faith and society.”
“More than merely being a chaperone, our youth workers understand that they serve as mentor, protector, encourager and even spiritual safe space for our kids as they figure out how to balance faith and society,” Jones said.
Conference events also include a community-focused activity. This year it was Project R.E.S.T., a nonprofit resource for victims of domestic violence.
Over the past 30 years, attendees have built homes, bought school supplies, visited hospitals and raised money, said Shay Wyrick Cathey, NYC vice chair and a member of the Central Pointé congregation.
“The Project R.E.S.T. coordinator said their shelter was full, and our donation would help pay for hotel beds for those seeking assistance this week,” Cathey said. “We never know who we’re helping, but we do know that we’ve been called to help. We want the kids to see that serving God is more than singing and praying. It’s serving his other children in their time of need.”
Erica Fulbright, a member of the Marsalis Avenue church, has attended the conference many times and said she counts the friendships made and strengthened through the event as a blessing: “Meeting brothers and sisters in Christ that enjoy the same things I do has helped me feel more comfortable in my Christian walk.”
James Bradshaw, who also attends the Greenville Avenue congregation, mentioned the connections he has made with other young Black Christians through NYC. They help him realize he’s not alone.
“Seeing other young people preach, sing and lead is encouraging, especially since being surrounded by hundreds of faithful youth isn’t as common these days,” Bradshaw said.
Ja’leeah Jones, a member of the Kingdom Church of Christ in Charlotte, N.C., attended her first conference this year. “I gained connections with other girls my age and got to connect with people going through the same daily struggles,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t change that experience for the world.”
The cost per attendee varies from year to year. This year’s rate was $325, which covered dorms, cafeteria services, T-shirts, activities and supplies.
A memorial scholarship fund was established by the family of the late Ernest Deacon Wyrick, former NYC director, to enable more youth to attend the annual gathering.
For more information, see www.nyc1952.org.
TANEISE PERRY is a member of The Christian Chronicle’s board of trustees. She worships with the Kingdom Church of Christ in Charlotte, N.C., and is owner of The Church Pew, an online faith apparel store.
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