By Deaconess Carol Viaer
Our Youth Pastor, Rev. David Francis, had an idea that was presented to the youth leaders early in the year. He outlined several themes and scriptures for us and requested that we choose one for our youth to live up to for the full year and possibly the next. We all had to memorize the theme and instill in the youth to do the same:
We Are S.P.I.R.I.T.
Showing God’s love to others
Praising God in His presence
Included in God’s family
Returning a part of our blessings
Inviting others to know Jesus
Training to be like Jesus
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. I Timothy 4:12
The task seemed easy but there were many unforeseen obstacles and challenges in our path that had to be overcome. We had to put aside past differences and come together for our youth. Putting on our armor of God and staying prayerful, we strived to meet our goal which was to put the past behind us and show all that as ONE we would prevail.
We began our celebration with the Saturday Church School closing where our youth poured out their talents. The Primary class, under the leadership of Deacon Rhona Russell, portrayed Jonah Learns to Obey God. The youth made the props for the scene. The Junior class displayed the book of Ruth in A New Life for Us, a skit written by Ajee Davis Burley under the leadership of Deaconess Carol Viaer. And the Intermediate class displayed Lessons To Remember, portraying several scriptures learned throughout the year in a game show version of What’s My Line?, under the leadership of Deacon Johnnie Davis, Jr., Jacqueline Gilyard, Mark Green and Sandra Francis.
For this year’s Convocation, Ms. Anna Caldwell had a vision for a musical concert. She brought her ideas to the Youth Board and together we proceeded to make her vision a reality. The youth were given challenges to assist in making this a memorable Convocation. Needless to say, it was no easy task. This concert presented many problems for us all--space for rehearsals, the children being able to attend rehearsals, and more than one ministry utilizing the same children.
Dance the Word Youth opened our concert with an African dance choreographed by youths Daquan Anderson and Mia-Michelle Russell. It was exciting to see one of our alumni youth, Sade Henry, performing with the African dance group. The Youth Mime Ministry also ministered a piece that was outstanding.
Securing the alumni youth was an even greater task for all, but mainly fell on the shoulders of Deacon Michael “Grand Pooba” Russell who believes in staying in contact with our youth either by phone or computer. All resources were utilized to bring all the youth together and the end result is what was witnessed on Sunday, June 13th. The youth came from Maryland, upstate New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Georgia. Getting them to rehearsals was another feat, but the end results were truly breathtaking.
The concert brought tears of joy to many of us as we danced in the aisles, clapped our hands, stomped our feet and played imaginary instruments, as we listened to the angelic voices of our youth. One could not help but praise God, just to see our youth on one accord singing the praises of Zion. It seems not so long ago that these same youth came in second place in the McDonald’s Gospelfest. It was good to see Isarel Walker conduct his “children” like old times, with no restrictions on him, and Junior Deacon Edward Taylor in a new role as conductor of the Church School Choir. Anna Caldwell tickled those ivories in a brand new way. Pastor Johnson truly enjoyed himself when he joined the youth in the choir loft, keeping in step as he sang and even played an instrument.
The youth continued the celebration of their convocation with activities on Monday, June 14th when they explored their African heritage by learning of their past from the elders of Canaan interviewed by the youth; Tuskegee airman Darby Montgomery; former Black Panther Leon Harris, and NAACP Youth Officers of the Mid Manhattan Branch, Mia-Michelle Russell, President and Wesley Sinckler, 1st Vice President. On Tuesday, June 15th the youth displayed their talents in a radio show on WCBCC, with radio personalities DJ Sandman (Coach Bill) and DJ Mini Me (Mia-Michelle), and with skits from various youth groups and a poem from our neighboring youth, Akira Carr of First Corinthian Baptist Church. On Wednesday, June 16th the youth led the church in prayer and devotion at the Wednesday Midweek Prayer Service.
The youth and the adult youth leaders truly enjoyed this celebration. There are so many to thank for this marvelous celebration of yet another Youth Convocation. All praise is given to our Heavenly Father who instilled in us that, through Him, everything is possible.