Logo2003 Youth Assembly

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Georgia
St. Simon's Island, Georgia
January 17 - 19, 2003

Epworth by the Sea, 2003
Written by: Mary Beth Bidgood
Photos by: Allison Ray

As I walked into Nalls, I was taken aback by the amount of people in the room.  It was amazing to see the joy that was being spread from person to person in that room.  Everyone had huge smiles on their faces as they greeted and hugged their friends that they had not seen since last year.  Because this was my first time attending Epworth, I was ready to find out how my weekend would go.  At that moment, standing inside of the Nalls Building, observing the happiness that exploded from everyone, I knew that my stay at Epworth was going to be one that I would never regret.

After registration, there was a group gathering. Paul Svenson, a Californian with a wonderful singing talent, led the group in several praise songs that boosted each person with tons of energy.  Following the singing, we had a worship service.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"  This verse in the Bible was the main focus at Epworth.  We are to change ourselves into new people, leaving behind our troubled pasts.

The food at Epworth was exceptionally good. I expected food that came from boxes and bags, or that we would be forcing T.V. dinners down our throats. But, the cooks were amazing. They cooked delicious homemade meals.  As we walked through the food line, the cooks would talk to us, asking us how are day was and how each of us were doing. They brightened our day with their beautiful spirits.

Julie BrownFor key notes, Dave and Julie Brown spoke.  They were two of the best speakers that I have ever heard in my life.  They each had inspirational stories that brought tears to the eye and spread chills along the body.  They emphasized how important and beautiful each of us are in the eyes of God, the only eyes that matter.  Despite how torn up and broken our lives are, God sees each and everyone of us as a perfect individual in every way.

After key notes, everyone was randomly divided into small groups.  I was put into a group with people I had never seen before.  We got to know each other by talking in pairs and telling the group about the life of the person that you talked to and learned about.  In these groups, we talked about change and how it is important in your life, but how it is not necessarily an easy thing to do.

Organized ChaosOrganized chaos was filled with exciting games.  To me, it was like a fair.  There was cotton candy and popcorn being eaten, while everyone ran around playing games and cheering for each other.  The organized chaos was a lot of fun for everybody and it was a good way for all of us to run around and to just have a relaxing afternoon.

Worship on Saturday night was excellent.  We took communion and opened up our hearts to God.  It was as if we were all changing into new people, leaving the past behind us.

Following worship, everyone was able to choose is they wanted to watch the movie, Phenomenon, or attend the dance.  I decided to attend the dance with the rest of my youth group.  Everyone had a great time at the dance and it was a good way to end the last night at Epworth.

On Sunday morning, we gathered in our small groups and filled out evaluation forms that related to our stay at Epworth.  Worship was filled with singing and praise.  We took communion and after we took it, everyone filled a card with their prayer requests and offered them to God.

I am so glad that I was able to go on the Epworth retreat.  I would not take back my experience that I had there for anything.  I learned to accept myself as I am.  I made friendships that will last me a life time. It is amazing to be able to worship with hundreds of people that I have never seen before, yet feel like a big family - for we are all worshiping our awesome Father, God.  We are all God's children and despite how we see only our faults, God only sees our beauty and talents.  God takes the broken pieces of our lives and fits them together to make a beautiful and awesome picture of us, His child.

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