Winter Celebration, the Virginia Synod youth event for high schoolers was held this past weekend on January 24-26 at Eagle Eyrie Baptist Convention Center in Lynchburg. This year over 300 youth and adult participants engaged with and witnessed the theme “Space for Faith” which is based on this year’s theme verse Matthew 7:7-8.
This year’s planning group was made up by Ellie Bergh from St. Stephen, Williamsburg, Carolina Bowen from College Lutheran, Salem, Grace Britt from Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, Graham Boyle from Epiphany, Richmond, Grace Collins from First, Norfolk, Brian Holahan from Christ the King, Richmond, and James Mims from Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach. The group worked with Pastor Dave Delaney, Pastor Wanda Childs 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 blasted off with a futuristic spaceship. The skits presented a Star Trek-style crew voyaging off towards their final training mission at the distant Alpha-Omega space station. Each crew member had a unique vocation, but when trouble arrises on their voyage they soon realize that their real mission is the roles they serve on the journey itself. With their fleets’ Admiral and each other for support and guidance, they arrive safely to their destination where they celebrate a job well done!
In addition to serving as an advisor to the planning group and crafting this year’s set pieces, Pastor Stephen Bohannon returned in style with his trench coat and fedora, as the Roving Reporter. This year’s Roving Reporter held interviews on a variety of distant planets interviewing the actor behind Baby Yoda, Elliot from E.T. and more!
Following large group presentations, the participants at Winter Celebration got the chance to break off into small groups, arraigned by grade. In these small groups, participants were able to reflect on the weekend focus on faith and vocation and relate it back to their own faith life through conversation, games, and crafts. One popular craft had participants create their own night skies, showing what a solar system representation of their life is like. As a small group, participants also worked to create a door with messages of grace and welcome that would encourage others to knock on it and displayed these decorations on their small group doors. Through these activities and conversations, participants at Winter Celebration shared how they are asking, seeking, and knocking for Christ in their life.
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 the church.
With laughter, worship, good conversation and deepened faith Winter Celebration 2020 was a fantastic weekend for all. Participants and adult leaders alike all had the opportunity to experience and learn what it means to ask, seek, and knock!