Lost and Found, the Virginia Synod youth event for 7th and 8th graders was held November 17-19 at Eagle Eyrie Baptist Convention Center in Lynchburg. This year over 200 youth and adult participants got to witness and live out the theme “Who Goes With You” based on Deuteronomy 31:6-8.
This year’s planning group made up by Ella Carlson (Bethel Lutheran, Winchester), Megan Farist (Grace and Glory, Palmyra), Micha Keyser-Rothgery (Christ Lutheran, Roanoke), Katherine Widner (Luther Memorial, Blacksburg), and Addison Pemsteiner (Christ Lutheran, Richmond). worked with Pastor Dave Delaney to plan nearly every element of the weekend. From scripture passage to t-shirt designs, the group got a say in the whole event making it uniquely suited to the middle schoolers in attendance.
During the weekend, the crowd enjoyed the planning group’s skits, which was set around a group of middle schoolers who are part of a church youth group. The youth group is trying to figure out how to navigate their new school environment as they enter a new school year, while still following God’s call to revolved around God’s call to not hide one’s faith when faced with challenges or distractions. One member of the Youth Group, Katie, is fearful for the challenges she and her friends might face, and begins to see in her dreams the ways in which her youth group friends might be drawn away from the youth group and their faith. She dreams her friends pull away as they chase after popularity, withdrawing to stay under the radar, and fall to distractions and indifference. In the end the whole youth group assures Katie that they all feel nervous about moving into new territory too, and that the worries she dreamed about are something that worries them too. Together the group affirms their trust in God’s presence in their lives, and vows to stick together.
Following each skit, Pastor David Young, the chaplain for the event, summarized the skit and offered ways that the stories told could relate to the lives of the middle schoolers. He connected the fears of moving on to high school, and worries about being abandoned by friends and how those concerns can shake confidence in God. It is by knowing of God’s constant companionship is present in all times and places that we can see that faith is a constant part of who we are, and can help prepare for times in which faith is challenged by fears or crisis.
Bryan “Hep” Hepner and Tori Smith acted as the planning group advisers and helped the group prepare to get up on stage. In addition to working with the planning group, Tori and Hep planned and performed their own series of comedic skits for the middle schoolers. The pair took on the roles of a survivalist named Sasquatch and her trainee, James Buffet, trying to learn how to survive (with limited success) in the wild, sending everyone in attendance into stitches over their silly antics.
Following large group presentations, the participants at Lost and Found got the chance to break off into small groups, arranged by age group. In these small groups, participants were able to reflect on the weekend’s theme, the skits presented, and relate all of it back to their own faith life through conversation, games, and crafts. One activity that small groups enjoyed was “Clothe Yourselves with Christ” where they had the opportunity to asses how they present Christ to the world around us, and interpret that presentation by designing a poncho they could wear out of newsprint. Small groups also got to decorate Luther Roses which were later hung up on the set during the Saturday worship service.
During the worship Service, Chaplain David rapped his sermon, using the weekend theme “Who Goes With You” as the hook to his sermon. With his rap, Chaplain Dave encouraged the participants to rap along that God goes with them when times are tough!
Bishop Bob Humphrey visited during the weekend, marking his first youth event as Bishop. While he was there, Bishop Humphrey lifted up the ongoing campaign in the Virginia Synod, ForwardingFaith. He encouraged participants to get involved with their churches to fundraise for ForwardingFaith which will support important faith formation programs like Lost and Found.
An offering was taken up on Saturday night’s worship service that will go towards purchasing mosquito nets for the New Guinea Island District, our companion Synod. Over $488 was collected.
Lost and Found 2017 was filled with laughter, fun, worship, and conversations that encouraged participants to remember God’s constant presence in their lives, and consider how they can best be a disciple of God not only in church or youth group, but to be bold in their witness for Christ in school, home, and everywhere else.