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Mission partnership to serve 500 young people

Volunteers Karen Yokota (left) and Kenton Kuwada from Wesley United Methodist Church in San Jose, Calif., paint baseboards that will go in a new home in Abbeville, La., in this 2005 file photo. The volunteers were part of a group helping rebuild homes following Hurricane Rita. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

By Tim Ghianni
Sept. 8, 2009 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)

More than 500 young people are expected to converge on the city next summer to perform mission work, learn leadership skills and discover more about what it means to be United Methodists.

Young United Methodist volunteers
help expand the Methodist Church
in Guanabacoa, Cuba. A UMNS file
photo by James Melchiorre.

And they will be doing it all with the help of a multidenominational mission planning group looking to expand into Music City.

The seven-week Denominational Mission Experience to be held June 20 to Aug. 6 is the result of a partnership linking the Minneapolis-based YouthWorks with Young People’s Ministries, a division of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

“YouthWorks approached me about it,” Hank Hilliard, director of Young People’s Ministries, said of the organization that this summer helped send 35,000 junior high and high school students on mission trips in the United States Canada and Puerto Rico.

“They’ve never had a site in Nashville before,” Hilliard said. “Nashville offers a lot of opportunities for mission projects.”

Great opportunity

The youth and their leaders will come to Nashville throughout the summer – camp sessions will last from Sunday evening to Friday. In addition to performing mission tasks established by YouthWorks, participants will spend time with denominational staff, touring church facilities and worshipping together at the Upper Room.

“I think it will be a great opportunity. One of the things we want this camp to accomplish is to have the groups have a sense that you are United Methodists; and you are a part of a movement that’s a lot bigger than ourselves,” Hilliard said.

If all goes as planned, from 70 to 80 United Methodist youth from different church groups will gather in Nashville weekly to be involved in projects throughout the area.

Teamwork as United Methodists will be stressed, as the young people will be put into a pool during the day “so youth will be working with other youth who are not in their (individual church) groups,” Hilliard said.

Bright future

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“We’re in the process of lining that up now,” Hilliard said. “We are partnering with places who are already doing ministry and offering the opportunity for us to help strengthen what they are doing.”

If it is successful, the partnership could set the stage for a long-running summer missions program in Nashville, officials said.

“We are excited for this opportunity to really be an extension of what The United Methodist Church is striving to do, to get back to its roots, in serving itself and serving among its community,” said Louise Ward, YouthWorks vice president of marketing.

Early indications are positive, Hilliard said. Two youth groups signed up on Aug. 20, the first day of registration.

*Ghianni is a Nashville-based freelance writer for the Board of Discipleship.

News media contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Youth People's Ministries

Division on Ministries with Young People

United Methodist Board of Discipleship

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