In late March, a group of high schoolers from LRPC (Will Ficek, Walter and Lesley Milligan, and their cousin Jenny) accompanied by Jason Palmisano and Brian and Carol Sweeney, headed down to Ocean City, MD to join 3,500 other high school students from 6 states, for the 2014 Youth For Christ IMPACT weekend conference. On Friday evening, we piled in the cars and made the drive down to the beach – stopping just over the Bay Bridge for some dinner. Unbeknownst to the rest of us who had settled for Taco Bell, Walter had discovered a Chick Fil A JUST around the corner. We certainly made a note of that for next year!
At the beginning of each main large group session (there were 4) the emcee, Curtis “CZ” Zackery, pumped up the crowd of students with his energy, wit, and encouragement. Act: 321 Improv dazzled the students with their witty banter and crowd-sourced story creation. Back again this year to lead worship was Rend Collective (formerly Rend Collective Experiment). Hailing from Northern Ireland, and renowned for their use of upbeat head-bopping rhythm’s and solid lyrics, Rend Collective lead each large group session with both well-known praise songs and their own original songs (if you listen to 95.1 Shine FM you might recognize “Build Your Kingdom Here” or “My Lighthouse”).
The main speaker for the weekend was Jeff Bethke. Jeff rose to notoriety in the Christian community after a spoken-word video he created (Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus) went viral on YouTube. He has since traveled the country speaking to youth, written a book, and continues making regular YouTube videos on different faith issues that face today’s youth. Jeff’s love for Jesus and passion for seeing hearts transformed for Christ was evident all weekend as he spoke about the story of the Prodigal Son as well as different false identities we can have rather than the ONE true identity as those created and loved by God.
Jamie Grace, a Contemporary Christian musician (“Hold Me”, “Beautiful Day”) performed a concert on Saturday evening. On Saturday and Sunday there were a dozen ‘break-out’ session opportunities covering a myriad of topics such as dealing with hard issues, how to understand the Bible, how to use our passions to change the world, where to find our identity, how to share your faith, and many more. On Saturday afternoon, there was a short break in the rainy weather and we were able to explore the Ocean City Boardwalk and load up on Fisher’s Popcorn!
Our group had some great late-night discussions Friday and Saturday evening back at the hotel. We shared what we had learned during the main sessions and break-out sessions and dove into some scripture for mini-Bible studies.
After the main session on Sunday, we had the opportunity to meet Jeff Bethke, Jamie Grace, and Rend Collective and had some posters and shirts signed!
It was unanimous that the weekend seemed to fly by. It was packed with events, great encouragement and takeaways. Evidence of a productive and exhausting weekend was the quiet and sleepy drive back to Baltimore: not by the drivers, of course! Many thanks to the LRPC congregation for your prayers and financial support to make this trip possible for us!
Mark your calendars, because there is already a date for next years IMPACT conference: IMPACT 2015: “Limitless” in Ocean City, MD. March 27-29, 2015.