Disciples Youth Get Dirty for Jesus in "HOTlanta"

ATLANTA -- More than 850 Disciples youth and youth workers from all over the United States and Canada made a dream a reality in the 2003 International Christian Youth Fellowship event in Atlanta, Ga.

July 9 to13 youth and their sponsors met at the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta for worship, fellowship and leadership development billed as "Another Brick, Another Dream." Each day, work teams from the gathering fanned out across the Atlanta area to renovate Disciples church buildings and grounds. Sites included Shiloh Christian Church, Iglesia El Aposento Alto, and Chattahoochee Christian Church, as well as First Christian Church in Decatur, Ga.

Members of the insulation crew at Shiloh said, "We had to put insulation on the walls, and we got so itchy! And we kept installing it, and we kept getting itchy, and we started to break out and it was SO WORTH IT, because we did it all for God."

Work groups built ramps, replaced siding, painted and cleared grounds of weeds and trash, put up new sheet rock, painted murals and much more. In each location, the group painted the logo of the event as a reminder of their service to each of the faith communities. The youth raised nearly $30,000 to fund these projects, including purchase of scaffolding which Volunteers In Mission will use for years to come.

"We helped people we didn't know, but when all was said and done, their faces of happiness meant the world to us," said Shay Miska, a Texas youth.

Leader Development Tracks and Vitality Groups offered participants workshops in over 30 areas from the fun of balloon animals to the weight of anti-racism and peacemaking. More than 30 youth and sponsors spent time exploring call to ministry.

Evenings included a fabulous variety of concerts ranging from the ICYF House Band, headlined by Josh Elson, Los Angeles, Calif., and Andra Moran, Nashville, Tenn., to rap by Pastor Joseph Johnson, Indianapolis, Ind., a Disciple who grew up in Ohio youth events. There was an African storytelling concert by The Healing Force from North Carolina and "urban folk gospel" by Atlanta duo, Joyce and Jacque. William Chaney, pastor of The Rock Christian Church, Stone Mountain, Ga., lead the ICYF Choir. (Elson, Moran, and Chaney will also provide music leadership for the youth activities at the Charlotte General Assembly.)

ICYF preachers were Stacey Spencer, pastor of New Directions Christian Church, Memphis, Tenn.; Richard Hamm, Disciples General Minister and President, Indianapolis, Ind.; Sandra Barnhill, executive director of Aid to Children of Imprisoned Mothers, Atlanta, Ga.; Rodger Nishioka, associate professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Ga.; and Randy Kuss, director of youth ministries, Disciples Home Missions, Indianapolis, Ind.

Attendees represented churches from 25 different Disciples regions and also marked a new level of diversity for the every-four-years youth gathering. "We really celebrate the fact that more than 100 of the attendees were from Disciples racial-ethnic groups that have not participated in this event in large numbers before now," said Randy Kuss. "As DHM strives to resource the church for the ministry to which God calls us all, the youth are once more leading the way in helping us live into the diversity of the whole church."

ICYF was planned by the General Youth Council; Volunteers in Mission; Vision Builders! Construction;  and Disciples Home Missions. Special event sponsors included Week of Compassion; New Church Ministries; and Church Extension, all located in Indianapolis, Ind.; Lynchburg (Va.) College and Transylvania (Ky.) University.

Find more ICYF stories and pictures at  http://www.disciplesyouth.org.

Disciples Home Missions, DHM, is the general unit within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), that is committed to equipping Disciples for Christ and connecting people to the life changing love of God.

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