The North American Division Youth and Young Adult Ministries department held a three-day virtual youth congress from Aug. 12 to Aug. 14, 2021. This youth congress, titled “GO DO IT,” this was the first annual youth congress sponsored by the department. The program was held live on-screen with events particularly geared toward the youth — the target audience was middle school, high school and college youth.
NAD Youth and Young Adult Ministries director Tracy Wood, and associate directors Vandeon Griffin and Armando Miranda Jr., started the general session welcoming attendees and discussing plans for Sabbath’s events. Each of the sessions dealt with different topics such as Makeup, Music, Social Media, School, Relationships, Sports, Video games, Self-Awareness, Fine Arts, and Mental Health.
Each session included different speakers and was presented via Zoom on the NAD OneTeam website.
More than 100 people viewed online each day of the event. The viewers usually sent comments requesting prayers, sharing their excitement, saying “Hi” to people who were on the stream, and congratulating people who won prizes or games. Participants who won prizes shared their screens on the stream to introduce themselves to the speakers.
Events for Aug. 13 and 14 included four sessions in total. Both days offered general live sessions with most of the program spanning several hours from mid-afternoon to 9 p.m. Short videos of people celebrating the event’s theme song on Tik-Tok were also shared.
Pax Fordham and Savannah Fortney hosted the event with featured speakers Damian Chandler and Jessie A. Lopez Abdul-Karim, both pastors. On the opening day of the event, worship music was played, the youth played games and watched a discussion panel titled “10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was a Freshman.” At least 135 people viewed the event online and posted comments of their excitement for the event. They also sent out prayer requests.
Participants registered for free in order the view the program. There were also free backpack giveaways for random participants of the event. Highlights of the giveaways included a MacBook or an iPhone, and iPads.
Along with the other giveaways, there was also a Tik-Tok/Instagram challenge in which participants had to download the program’s theme song and then follow the department’s Tik-Tok and Instagram pages (@nad_ym & @nadyouthministires). After that, participants had to create a duet with the song as a reel or Tik-Tok video. The winner was rewarded $250.
On the second day of the event, Chandler delivered a message that centered on having “Audacious” faith. He said, “Don’t ever allow any challenge to be greater than our God.” He spoke about how it important it is to have faith in God.
Hosts Fordham and Fortney announced iPad giveaways to two lucky participants. They briefly talked about the things they have coming up for school and had participants comment on what challenges they’ll be facing for school. Friday’s event closed with a prayer and special music by Nashville pastors Greg and Kim Taylor titled “Here I am to Worship, How Great is our God.”
Saturday’s event started with the Sabbath School lesson study and worship from this week. This went from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Chandler and Lopez Abdul-Karim presented a joint message talking about faith. Chandler again spoke about having “Audacious” faith while Lopez Abdul-Karim shared some of her Latin backgrounds.
Why a Youth Congress?
During one of the sessions of the event, Pastor Ashia Lennon explained that “We wanted to give people an opportunity to learn and explore.”
Wood said “As youth directors and we know that young people enjoy getting together at gatherings like these. Also, they make decisions to choose Jesus and reconfirm their commitments to Jesus at special events such as youth congresses, Bible camps, and leadership retreats.”
Making connections was also an important reason to hold the youth congress. “The community experience of developing new friendships from around North America, the biblical messages and prayer wall, the affirmations from others, and interaction in the webchat helped make this event meaningful,” said Wood, noting that even the workshops were designed to be “youth-focused and friendly.”
According to Wood, the decision to coordinate this event were ‘fully Pastor Vandeon’s idea and he shared it with me, Pastor Roger Wade, and Pastor Armando Miranda Jr. Vandeon developed a planning team of pastors from around the NAD and they brainstormed all the components of what a virtual youth congress could be like.”
The next events for the Youth and Young Adult Ministries department include the “Do It Together” Virtual Sabbath School Convention, with partners NAD Adult Ministries and NAD Children’s Ministries, on Sept. 9 to 11; and World Pathfinder Day on Sept. 18.
— Christian Grullon, a journalism major in his junior year at Kean University, writes from New Jersey.