Winter Celebration, the Virginia Synod youth event for high schoolers was held this past weekend on January 18-20 at Eagle Eyrie Baptist Convention Center in Lynchburg. This year over 315 youth and adult participants engaged with and witnessed the theme “Faith in Action” which is based off two passages. I John 3:18 was this year’s theme verse and Luke 10:25-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan, became the focus for this year’s large group skits.
This year’s planning group was made up by Elinor Glassco from Peace Lutheran in Charlottesville, Annabelle Hamman from Grace Lutheran in Rural Retreat, Karen Kohler from Peace Lutheran in Charlottesville, Whitney Long from First Lutheran in Norfolk, Jamison McCarty from Christ Lutheran in Staunton, and Patrick Redmond from First Lutheran in Norfolk, and Jillian Stierwalt from St. Andrew Lutheran in Portsmouth. The group worked with Pastor Dave Delaney, Pastor Paul Pingel the event chaplain, as well as Pastor Stephen Bohannon and Nicole Smith who both served as advisors to the group.
During the weekend, youth and adults enjoyed the planning group skits, which decked out Dogwood Hall to look like a movie set. The skits presented an independent film crew in crisis as the studio executives for the movie make big changes the plot of their film, and if these changes aren’t fulfilled they’ll find another crew that can complete the job. Each crew member provides their own excuses as to why they can’t help the film change to please the studio executives. Karen, the crew’s sound engineer tries to make suggestions to the crew as they bicker and argue but if often ignored. The crew’s panic about how to deal with the studio demands reaches a breaking point as each crew member abandons the director and the movie they’re making. All hope seems lost for the film when Karen appears with all the supplies needed to meet the studio demands and rescue the project. The large group story concludes with the now-completed independent movie ready for release, but the group still not quite realizing that it was the overlooked crew member – Karen – who was the real rescuer.
In addition to serving as an advisor to the planning group and crafting this year’s set pieces, Pastor Stephen Bohannon once again donned his trench coat and fedora, to become the Roving Reporter. This year’s Roving Reporter held interviews on a variety of Hollywood sets from meeting a blindfolded director of Birdbox to a Minion wrangler, each comical skit and quiz show linked back to the Faith in Action theme, finding aid from an unlikely source.
Following large group presentations, the participants at Winter Celebration got the chance to break off into small groups, arraigned by age. In these small groups, participants were able to reflect on the weekend theme and relate it back to their own faith life through conversation, games, and crafts. Since the weekend Planning Group skit focused on a crew of independent filmmakers, small groups at Winter Celebration each got the opportunity to write and film a script as if they too were filmmakers! This activity had small groups stage and film a short video illustrating what the group had been talking about with the Good Samaritan parable or loving in truth and action. We’re excited to share these creative videos with you in the coming weeks.
Bishop Humphrey got to join in the fun at Winter Celebration both weekends. When speaking to participants he stressed how important youth are in the Virginia Synod and the real value that is realized with opportunities like Winter Celebration to gather as church. During his visit, he also shared three new words that are forming the vision statement for the Virginia Synod, “Bold, Faithful, and Serving”. Bishop Humphrey also took time to take a selfie with the youth gathered each weekend, moments he shared with the rest of the synod through his Instagram account.
With laughter, worship, good conversation and deepened faith Winter Celebration 2019 was a fantastic weekend for all. Participants and adult leaders alike got to experience and share what faithful loving in action means to them in their every day lives.
To view photos from the 2019 Winter Celebration: Faith in Action, click here.