Earlier this year, Goldendale United Methodist Church received a Peace with Justice grant in the amount of $3,500 from the Pacific Northwest Conference Board of Church and Society to assist eight youth of the Big River Youth Council (local Native American youth, ages 10-20) to attend the UNITY Conference in San Diego, says Linda Hay.
2018 United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) Conference is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native American youth.
The focus of the conference, where 2,800 youth from all over the country gathered, was wellness: mental, physical and spiritual. There was cultural sharing as well as presentations by well known athletes, singers, etc., who are American Indians.
The conference began with the lighting of the UNITY Fire, said Sarah Gould. Every youth and chaperone walked away from the ceremony feeling blessed. The roll call represented every different region, tribe, and the youth group was a moving experience.
The second day started off with a group exercise on team building followed by a presentation by Matika Wilbur, a photographer who talked about the underrepresentation of American Indians has led to a misunderstanding of what the American Indian is really like. Later that night, all the youth had an opportunity to make presentations.
The third day, was the physical wellness day. The attendees were offered valuable and amazing experiences, from a dance performed by a Polynesian dance school to a presentation by California youth leaders on a project to restore native food sovereignty.
On the morning of the fourth day, The Voice Finalist Brooke Simpson performed an original song after telling us about how she overcame life's obstacles in pursuing her dream as a Native artist. The day closed out with meetings, workshops and a banquet.
The final day of the conference, the new executive committee for the National UNITY Conference was offered an orientation that morning. The indoors doings were finished off with a friendship circle.
On their return the Goldendale UMC attendees presented to our church congregation, as well as other community partners, what they took away from the conference, said Hay. Each youth spotlighted something a little different from the others. The common thread, in my opinion, was that they were all more confident in their speaking and demonstrated more self-esteem.
The congregation of Goldendale UMC continues to walk with these wonderful young people by inviting and including them at United Methodist Women conferences and meetings, providing tutoring services, assisting them in applying for scholarships and financial aid, etc. It's a God thing!!
As a member of the BRYC, I think I can speak for all of us when I say how appreciated our generous sponsors are, says Gould. We would not have been able to take as many youth as we did without their kind and charitable support.
Linda Hay, UMW President, Goldendale UMC, Washington and Sarah Gould, The Sentinel
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Peace with Justice Sunday enables The United Methodist Church to have a voice in advocating for peace and justice through a broad spectrum of global programs. The special offering benefits peace with justice ministries in the annual conference and through the General Board of Church and Society.