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WRYE connects youth from the western region

Back when I was United Methodist, I was a part of my local youth group and it was great.  For a couple hours every Sunday night we’d get together, do something fun, usually eat pizza and our leaders would cleverly try and figure out some way to make God part of our conversation. 

mike denton

Mike Denton

God talk was always something that was a little awkward because it just wasn’t one of those things that came easily.  We were always afraid of saying the wrong thing or not being deep enough or having what was a pretty simple thing to us turn in to some complicated thing.  Plus, we really didn’t come together to talk about God.  We just wanted to have fun, and talking about God just wasn’t fun.

Regional youth events, though, had a whole different feel.  For the first bit, I would usually feel just a little out of place among these large groups of folks that came from different areas, but the regional nature of these gatherings gave a whole different feel that I couldn’t help but to be energized by. 

I felt part of something bigger.  It wasn’t just me and my youth group, but it was me, my youth group and lots and lots of other people in other youth groups. 

I was part of something and felt like, together, we were powerful.  I knew we could change the world.


In the large groups, people expressed their faith in ways I had never seen or heard before.  They told real stories.  They made us laugh.  A room full of more Christian youth than I had ever seen in one place would fall silent, at times, as we all experienced sacred moments.  They prayed in ways that the words felt as though they could have been coming out of my mouth. 

In the smaller groups, people my own age asked hard questions and spoke honest doubts.  Some talked about hard parts of their lives.  I learned a lot from those who knew how to show love for people in ways that were gentle and strong.  We could read the Bible together and, sometimes, disagree with it, dialogue with it, study it and more.

Those regional events—and camp, too—showed me a way church could be.  It’s one of the reasons I’m a minister today.  In many ways, I’m still seeking out and looking for that same sort of experience as an adult.

This year from June 29 to July 3, the UCC’s Western Regional Youth Event (WRYE) is being hosted by the Pacific Northwest Conference and will be taking place at Seattle University. 

Tara Barber and Susan Andresen have been heading up the planning for this event along with the help of many others.  The line up of speakers, music and other elements is fantastic. 

Delegations of youth from every UCC Conference in between the eastern border of Colorado way out to Hawaii will be sending representatives to this gathering of hundreds of youth.  Those planning this have done a phenomenal job pulling together what’s going to be an amazing event.

I know for many—if not most—reading this, there’s a bit of a distance between the time we were youth and now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be supportive.  The cost of this event is reasonable but not inexpensive for many of our youth:  $450 covers food, lodging, speakers, music and other activities. 

If you haven’t done so already, ask your church if they would consider helping with the expenses for the youth from your church attending WRYE.  If your church doesn’t have youth attending, consider supporting the youth from our conference who would like to go.  Give through the conference website at—click on the big DONATE button and then type in WRYE on the “other” line. You can also send a check to our offices at 325 N. 125th St.  Seattle, WA 98133, and write WRYE on the memo line. 

If between registrations and fund raising, we raise enough money that all expenses for WRYE are covered, these monies will be passed on to help support the next WRYE.

The prayer I use before I preach is a version of a prayer I learned from Mac Kelly, one of the chaplains at a regional event I attended:

“Dear God,
Meet us where we are.

May we support the youth of our conference so that they may have the opportunity to meet God—and other UCC youth—at the WRYE.


Copyright © April 2014 - Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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