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Adventist Europe serious about youth

Adventist Europe serious about youth

Wetzgau, Germany. [Presse Bayern/S. Brass; CD-EUDNews]. 600 youth leaders, pastors and administrators from 13 European countries met for four days in beautiful Wetzgau, Germany, to get quality, professional and spiritual training in youth ministry. 16 wor

December 22, 2012 | Presse Bayern/S. Brass; CD-EUD; pictures: Corrado Cozzi

Wetzgau, Germany. [Presse Bayern/S. Brass; CD-EUDNews]. 600 youth leaders, pastors and administrators from 13 European countries met for four days in beautiful Wetzgau, Germany, to get quality, professional and spiritual training in youth ministry. 16 workshops were designed to give practical advice in various aspects of working with young people. In eight plenary sessions, the best in Adventist educators including the former and the present president of the Seventh-day Adventist church offered their expertise in their respected fields. “Haus Schönblick”, the guest centre and location of the Christian conference was well chosen by Stefan Sigg, the EUD visionary and skilled youth leader, an almost perfect organizer of this event.

“Be church” was the overall motto of this training and learning opportunity. The three key words were: inter-generational, incarnational and missions. These served as the underlying factors of this PulseMeet youth ministry convention with its focus on educating youth leaders, youth pastors and everyone with the passion for serving and ministering to young people.

V. Bailey Gillespie, the godfather of all the Valugenesis studies, opened the conference with his invitation: “Love them and they will come!”. It is trust that permeates the ministry with young people. Participant Philippe Leduce was touched by Johann Gerhardt’s illustration in his talk about “why the church should minister to the youth”: “You trust me, dad?” “Of course!” “So let me have the keys to your car …”

The audience.

Kiti Freier Randall, a pediatric neuro-developmental psychologist, in her workshop presented components necessary to change the trend for youth as well as the importance of relationship and hope. She also called for understanding and identifying risks with an emphasis on understanding resilience and how that works in prevention and intervention.

The morning devotions by Munich pastor Miki Jovanovic were well received by the young attendants. “I appreciate that he talked about the importance of prayer for the youth”, was Christoph’s summary. Wendy Engelmann, wife of Baden-Württemberg youth secretary Marc, added: “… the importance of taking seriously what we do and how we go about preparing for things, particularly preaching to young people.”

Other sessions included Andrews University’s full-time chaplain Japhet De Oliveira’s new vocabulary “Tribal Leadership” exploring ways to develop and grow leaders all around you. The pastor-couple Judith and Sven Fockner’s workshop was about “How to talk about sex to our youth”. After the terrible killing spree of Winnenden in 2009 Dr. Bojan Godina, director of the Germany Churches Institute of Culturally Relevant Communication and Values Education (IKU), developed the concept of medial peer-to-peer education named “media scout” and presented it in his workshop. Gabriel Monet from France talked about “The family: its place and its role in youth activities”.

Denise Hochstrasser, women’s ministries director for the Inter-European region, examined the why’s and how’s of reaching out to girls and young women in the church. Former world church president Dr. Jan Paulsen emphasized his numerous television live talks with young people during his presidency and pondered on feasible responses by the church and its leadership to the challenges raised by them.

One of the highlights of this convention was definitely the communion service, lead out by Stefan Sigg and Ted Wilson. A simple cross was placed in the middle of the auditorium and surrounded by a cross-shaped table with over 600 cups of red grape juice and plates with bread. Elder Ted Wilson invited his listeners to `revival and reformation´, his personal and the church’s agenda, focusing on reading the Bible on a daily basis. The following foot-washing ceremony was well organized and conducted in a solemn and cordial way as people shared with partners.

A convention of this kind is possible only by the exchange and fellowship of its participants. Every night, after the presentations, the night lounge offered countless opportunities for fellowship and exchange. With a free drink, sweets and snacks it was easy to meet old friends and establish new acquaintances. Here the topics of the day were reviewed and new ideas and visions were developed.

On Sabbath afternoon president Wilson answered questions in front of a packed auditorium. Four specific areas were selected, starting with the role of supportive ministries to which he responded: “I support anybody that advocates highlighting the Bible.” He urged leaders not just to reject, but to plead with and keep talking with them. In regard to the role of women in the church, he referred to the recently established committee and asked that everybody wait for its recommendations to the world church in San Antonio 2015 and hold back on any action in

this regard.

In terms of unity of diversity Wilson remarked, “we are a church with different challenges. We cannot force anybody to do what we want. One solution is to be guided by the Word of God.” The topic of creation vs. evolution seems to be very close to the president’s heart. “We have to consider that if we deny creation, the principle of the Sabbath will collapse and the plan of salvation will fall apart. These are two extremely important topics in the Bible. We base our faith on the Bible; we invite those who are searching, to base their faith on the Bible. We have to stand for God as a Creator.” In conclusion, he invited the youth not only to talk about the Bible, but to live the Bible.

In an earnest appeal he called upon the youth of Europe: “Europe is not a dead place where people do not believe in God. There is a superficial resistance. Create an evangelistic revolution in Europe; use all means, including social networks. God wants to use you to turn Europe upside down. I pray for you, I believe in you! Place yourselves in His hands!”

With the presentation of “ICORE” on Sunday morning, Stefan Sigg gave a perspective for the future of youth work in the Inter-European Division. ICORE is an acronym for the “church of refuge”. He launched this project of an inter-generational community that is focused on young people, ensuring that the young feel protected and valued, that they can get involved and mature spiritually as disciples of Christ. Thus this PulseMeet convention was just the beginning of an ongoing process not only to talk about the youth, but to let them take the responsibility and lead this church in its distinct mission.

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