WINNSBORO — In a culture where faith is often separated from everyday life, Diocese of Charleston youth respond, “Get Real,” the theme of the 2003 Junior High Youth Rally held at White Oak Conference Center Nov. 1.
Cultivation Ministries from Chicago worked with the Diocesan Youth Evangelization Team to create a day of faith exploration, addressing issues like peer pressure, relationships and “what it means to be a member of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” With the use of music, talks, skits and games, the youth learned ways to build a closer relationship with Christ and each other.
An added attraction for the youth was the award-winning Christian band Daniel’s Window, which played several musical sets throughout the day. The sound and appearance of the band was “so real,” it would make a parent check their lyrics that were posted on big screens around the large auditorium so the young people could sing along. One high-energy piece played by the group was “Don’t Stop the Holy Ghost is Rock’in” followed by melodious words “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord … I want to see you.”
“The rally gives the youth an opportunity for fun worship. It shows them that their faith can be fun and exciting,” said Angie Spinelli, youth minister at Blessed Sacrament in Charleston. Their church brought 18 youth and seven adults, and Spinelli said that the chaperones were as enthusiastic as the junior high students about going to the rally.
Jacob Olsen, one of the Blessed Sacrament youth, said the event “helps you spiritually by being about to talk to people of a similar age who can help you deal with problems like peer pressure and self-esteem.”
The skits are always a highlight for the youth. In “Creation” four evangelization team members spoke about the Scripture passage from John 14:6 that says Jesus is the way, the truth, and life. It first shows how some young people see their life as worthless and shows how they feel as though they do not “fit in.” The skit builds on the idea that God loves everyone and that is the greatest source of worth.
“Mask,” another skit, showed people physically putting on different masks that represented behaviors and attitudes so they could feel apart of a crowd. The characters eventually take off all the masks and decide to let their Christian values lead them.
For the Charleston Youth Evangelization Team, there was much preparation for the day. They met several times to plan and rehearse for the rally. They were instrumental in leading the groups to their various destinations, and they did most of the skits.
Jose Arias from St. James Church in Conway, one of the team leaders, is glad that he could help. He said he is grateful for the opportunity to touch other people’s lives in a positive way.
“As a member of the team, you get to meet a lot of people who loved God and are not into bad things,” he said, emphasizing the wonderful camaraderie he shares with these friends in Christ.
Anne Marie Renold who also works with Arias has been involved with the evangelization team since she went to World Youth Day in Toronto.
“After that experience in Toronto, seeing all the youth excited about their faith, I wanted to get involved and share my faith with others, too,” she said.
To put the final touches on a day that emphasized making faith alive and real in one’s life, Bishop Robert J. Baker brought the real presence of Christ to those who attended Mass and were able to receive their Risen Savior.