Montreat Youth Conference
A few weeks ago, the high school youth of Myers Park Presbyterian Church attended the annual Montreat Youth Conference. The theme for this year, “A Missing Peace,” focused on finding peace in spite of the chaos surrounding us daily. For three of our youth—Zach Cline, Ella Price, and Chris Gantt—the trip was so much more. They experienced God in many different ways and learned much more about themselves than they initially thought possible.
“I was pretty nervous and didn’t know what would go on. I thought you just had to do whatever they told you and I wouldn’t connect with people,” says Ella. “I went in with an open mind but didn’t expect anything to come from it,” adds Zach. At Montreat Youth Conference, the focus is on helping youth see God in their lives through connections with others. The keynotes and daily worship services are vibrant and full of energy, presenting worship in a way that engages youth. “Going to the keynotes and worship services every day helped me see that church gives you a chance to explore what you believe and what God means to you and is saying in your life,” Zach says. “It was at Montreat that I realized that I did enjoy coming to church and being in the church community,” says Ella. “It’s a lot more fun going to church feeling happy and with an open mind; Montreat did that for me.”
“Church gives you a chance to explore what you believe and what God means to you and is saying in your life”Zack Cline
Living in a technology–focused world, and coming from a big city like Charlotte can become overwhelming, and we often get lost in the fray of being plugged in. Montreat offers an escape from all of that allowing for reflection and time to center oneself. “I learned a lot about different types of praying such as using water, sound, bubbles, and meditation,” Chris says. For Ella, the missing piece was friendships within the church, and she found them at Montreat. “I ended up making so many friends. Now, I know I have people I can call to help me or just talk to and have lunch with, and it’s nice and comforting to know that,” she says. Others found peace in walking around Lake Susan and talking with friends. “At Montreat, it seems like the whole world stops and you can just breathe,” says Zach. “Ironically I think my missing piece was actually peace.”
“No matter what you are going through you will have people to help you and talk to you and that if you don’t, you always have God.”Chris Gantt
It’s safe to say Montreat was a transformative experience for all of the youth who went. Being in the presence of 1,200 youth from around the country in worship and fellowship is truly awe inspiring. “You have so many people from different walks of life that you meet,” Ella says. “I saw a lot of love when we would embrace people wholeheartedly, and we received a lot of that love back.” “My favorite memory from Montreat was seeing the transformation of our small group. The first meeting was awkward, and nobody really wanted to talk,” says Chris. “However, by the end of the trip, our whole group was talking as if we had been friends for years.” “Montreat reminded me that no matter what you are going through you will have people to help you and talk to you and that if you don’t, you always have God.”