In 1986, I climbed into an RV with ten other New Orleans youth and rode “up north” … five states away to attend the Montreat Youth Conference in North Carolina. I was 14 years old and was about to begin high school.
I had never been to North Carolina, never experienced the lush greenery that seemed to be everywhere, the fresh air that invigorated my senses, and my first view of the “Blue Ridge Parkway” that now is integral to my soul each summer.
The theme for that 1986 Montreat Youth Conference was “Branded.” The adult leaders guided us through what it meant to be “branded” by society: athletes, intellectuals, introverts, extroverts, popular kids, etc. As the week unfolded though, those labels were replaced. Our understanding of who we were changed to the message of what mattered in God’s eyes. We were “branded” as children of God, unconditionally loved and gifted to be in community together.
That week in Montreat 35 years ago changed my life forever. It is one of the reasons, along with a wonderful faith community in NOLA as well as some amazing mentors, that I decided to become a pastor.
This week I am asking you to pray for the seven youth who are attending the Montreat Youth Conference this week (July 25-31). They are; Mac Faircloth, Sydney Hunt, Cameron Jones, Macy McAlister, Howell Pierce, Parker Stroud, and Addison Wall. Pray that their faith and spiritual lives are deepened. Pray they will hear God’s call and know that they are God’s beloved and chosen children, gifted to serve this world.
AND!!! … pray for the leaders taking them too! Kevin Murray (FPC director of youth ministry), Lahna Crutchfield (summer youth intern), and me (NOLA transplant who LOVES Montreat).