New England teens make 17-hour trip to Winterfest
When Shelly Kellis, a member of the Greater Portland Church of Christ, started organizing a trip by New England teens to the Winterfest youth rally in Gatlinburg, Tenn., few had even heard of it.
But last year, 16 teens — helped by scholarships from Winterfest founder Dudley Chancey, youth ministry professor at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City — made the 17-hour drive to the scenic Smoky Mountains. And this year Kellis set out to bring an even larger group.
With few church funds available to help subsidize the trip, Kellis turned to Christian universities and received donations and encouragement, she said, from Abilene Christian University in Texas, Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., Ohio Valley University in Vienna, W.Va., Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and York College in Nebraska.
“We once again had to trust God through all this,” Kellis said. “We knew it was possible with God. It was just such a huge thing for these teens from these tiny and very small churches to think God would pull this all together for them.”
In all, 31 teens and 10 chaperones from seven Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts churches made the trip.
Beyond raising money for their expenses, the teens collected $680 for the Give a Goat Foundation, which lets donors purchase a goat for families in the Philippines. The ministry partners with Bread for a Hungry World.
“One thing I wanted in this process was to be sure that we kept the focus not just on Winterfest or these teens, but on God and what he wanted for us and where we were headed,” Kellis said.