This December I visited Evangelical Friends Church Mid-America Yearly Meeting (EFC-MA YM) and attended the pilot of their newly developed conference, reGENERATION. The event spanned four intense and revitalizing days, waking up early to attend worship sessions, meals, labs, small groups, recreation activities, then going to bed late, exhausted and joyful. The inevitable differences I noticed between Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM) and EFC-MAYM proved positive, broadening the way I worship and experience God.
The first area I’d like to highlight is prayer. My introverted worship style has always fit well with silent prayer, while praying out loud pushes my comfort zone. For reGENERATION’s prayer lab we gathered into small groups of four and prayed out loud for each other immediately after sharing thanksgivings and requests. During our debrief, a woman in my small group presented a challenge I decided to take up: find a specific person to pray for each week, ask for their requests and continue to talk with them throughout the week. It’s simple, and it has led me to fully realize how prayer strengthens both an individual’s relationship with God and the relationships within a faith community.
The atmosphere of worship was very clear and intentional throughout the conference. We woke up each morning and went straight into a laid-back worship session with singing and scripture. These worship sessions were held in a room set aside specifically for worship, and we were asked to keep talking at a minimum as soon as we stepped through the doorway. Each day also ended in worship, and I found this deliberate structure made it easier to keep my easily-distracted mind focused on God.
I’m grateful for the many meaningful conversations I had with students and adults about youth involvement in both NWYM and EFC-MAYM. There’s so much we can learn from each other’s yearly meetings, and I hope to see a youth representative from Mid-America join the Northwest’s yearly meeting sessions someday.
Hayley is a junior at Newberg High School who has been a part of Northwest Yearly Meeting since she can remember. She hopes to study International Relations or International Development in college and serve in a job overseas.