Story by Amanda Daniell
Coordinator for Young People's Ministries and Camping Ministry
Mountain Sky Conference
The United Methodist Church
We have all witnessed the changes in how we do church since having to adjust to our changing climate surrounding COVID-19. We have had to shift to doing church online, and have been exploring innovative ways to engage our congregations. Our youth groups across the conference are no different. Just like our pastors, our youth workers were faced with the unprecedented challenge of continuing youth group virtually. How are they doing this? I asked youth workers across the conference to share how they are staying engaged with their youth in this challenging time. Ashley Given, Youth Director of Smokey Hill UMC, said,
"Smoky Hill UMC's youth group is still going strong with virtual Sunday School and youth group! We've played charades, had a scavenger hunt through Zoom, watched Hook through Netflix Party and even played bingo together! It's difficult being separated but we've found ways to continue to connect with one another, share God's love, and keep up our shenanigans! Our gatherings add a brightness to these uncertain times and we hope that these photos add a brightness to your life."
"The youth at Hope UMC have been busy giving back, stepping up and looking forward", says Youth Director Stacey Hilzer. Stacey continues, "as a church we have been having online church services every week, in a huge part because of one of our youth Joe, and Logan, a young adult, who has been doing all the filming, and editing of the services! This includes 4 services during Holy Week, that Logan did while still doing his college classes on line! Zoom game nights have helped us laugh a lot and wonder why Paul, a 2020 Seminary Graduate, did not win the John Wesley quiz. Serving as the muscle for the food drives allowed a few of us to get out the house while social distancing, and we are excited to team up with the children’s program to create a “Little Buddy/ Big Buddy” group. We have placed a special emphasis on the 2020 Confirmation Class and the 2020 High School Graduation Class, we did a virtual faith fair with our confirmands and are going to honor them this week with a photo slide show during service. Our high school grads will be featured like every year in the Hope UMC Yearbook , Senior Sunday and for this special class they have all been snail mailed a special graduation gift from there church family!
Meanwhile, at Loveland UMC, Youth Director Ann Kessler reports that "on Wednesdays, we’ve been doing zoom for lunch at noon with the high school kids. We've also played Kahoot trivia which was a lot of fun and last week we played with virtual backgrounds. We just chitchat and have a little break from everything."
At Montrose UMC, Youth Director, Sarah Seymour said, "Our group has been meeting online via Zoom to replace Sunday School, "Bibles & Board Games", UMYF and Confirmation. At the last "Bibles and Board Games", we played a game titled "The Avengers or the Bible". The youth had to guess if the quote was given was from the Avengers or the Bible. The had a blast playing today! We finished out the group time with a short devotion on Isaiah 41:10."
Other youth workers have reported doing video scavenger hunts, "Youth Group Bingo at Home", posting weekly messages on YouTube, making personal phone calls, and delivering breakfast to friends. While ministry during this time of social distancing has provided unique challenges, the youth workers and youth of our conference have found innovative ways to stay connected. Share with us ways you are staying connected in the comments.