USA: Youth Ministry Winter Workshops
By FFWPU USA: Youth groups around the country dedicated their winter breaks from school to gathering as a community and sharing the unforgettable experience of a winter workshop. These workshops are designed for participants to be challenged, to bond with their peers and emerge stronger in their life of faith. Thanks to the Cranes Scholarship, which raised $1400 this year, 28 of the youth were able to participate with the help of a $50 scholarship. Here are some highlights from workshops around the nation:
Midwest Winter Workshop: “Life Is Beautiful”
This was a great workshop filled with love and laughter. Forty-five participants attended from all over the Midwest region, and even Chicago and Arizona. This year, the theme of the region’s workshop was “Life Is Beautiful.” On the first full day, participants spent time out in the nature of northern Wisconsin skiing and reflecting on how they each uniquely experience God’s love through our own spiritual styles and “God languages.”
On the second full day, they did a reflection activity and shared on the past year of 2015 and the experiences that made that year beautiful. They then set new goals for how they wanted to make this new year even more beautiful. Putting into practice what they had learned from guidance that morning about the beauty of relationships and team building, they had an incredibly creative gingerbread house competition surrounding the theme of the workshop.
Finally, the group re-gathered at the end of the day to share their experiences and enjoyed each other’s warm company through an exciting open mic and talent night.
New England Winter Workshop: “Fire Within”
As with many of the high school winter workshops, the New England workshop staff wanted participants to leave the workshop feeling as if they had a choice to choose their faith, and a choice to make decisions about their lifestyle.
“By empowering and placing trust in them, we were able to evaluate what healthy and unhealthy choices we were making in our lives,” described a staff member. “We gave them the space to explore and deeply question their faith with the hope that some of their questions can be answered during our workshop, as well as after our workshop from their continued search of their relationship with God, True Parents and our movement.”
Another key highlight was an emphasis on treating each other with unconditional love, persevering, and striving for unity despite differences.
“We let the youth have the space to express themselves while maintaining the stance that above all else we can still love and support each other,” said the staff.
“I’m really glad that I gave four days of my winter break to attend this workshop,” said a participant. “I feel like I learned so much from my older brothers and sisters. Their experiences and stories let me view my life of faith in a whole different perspective that I wouldn’t have seen if it wasn’t for them. I started to think deeply about myself and my relationship with God. I also feel more confidence and strength. I truly feel like I’ve grown so much in the course of these four days. It’s been an incredible experience I will never forget.”
“We went over so much content about stoking your inner fire and growing it passionately,” said another participant. “We realized we were capable of anything because it was our choice and learned how to not be affected by our circumstances but to create things instead. This experience was very enlightening.”
Near the end of the workshop, the group had a fire declaration and used paper lanterns to ask for the universe to help with their declarations. This was internally empowering and visually stunning.
“We emphasized to our youth a lot that they were valuable, special and loved and they deserve to live a big life and that the world needs them to go for their dreams and not to play small,” explained a staff member. Read More