Kathryn Dyck is Youth Leader, St. John's Presbyterian Church, Winnipeg Manitoba.
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within."
What a great opportunity this is to discuss the renewal that Christian youth in Manitoba have been experiencing over the past few years. It has truly been a "Fountain of Youth." God's hands have guided the work of youth leaders and adult advisors who have volunteered their time and talents to Manitoba's Presbyterian Youth Council (PYC). The purpose of this volunteer council is to provide opportunities within a Christian environment for youth and young adults to deepen their understanding and experience of God that they might glorify him in all of life. From its beginnings in 1993, the Council has now grown to 18 members and has an average retreat attendance of 80 participants. The PYC runs a variety of events throughout the year to help fulfill its mission.
Retreats = Rejuvenation! One way the PYC has found to successfully reach the youth is through regular retreats. Retreats are the most spiritually renewing experience for the majority of the youth. A combination of theme sessions, small group time, worship and recreation make for a truly "God-filled" weekend.
The youth often question how they can maintain the wonderful, warm fuzzy feeling they get after attending a retreat. Entering back into the secular world can be somewhat overwhelming after the warmth of being surrounded by fellow Christians. Monthly Saturday Night Praise evenings have proven to be a great way of keeping ones focus on God. This is a night of praising and fellowship organized by members of the PYC's worship committee that joins young and old.
It has been my experience that as the youth become refreshed and renewed they actively seek out new and exiting ways to glorify God. Who would have thought that a group of young people could put together a compact disc with songs from the new Book of Praise, all within a few months? Or what about putting on musicals like "Godspell" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat." The youth have also initiated a Praise and Worship Group who have contributed to the worship services of almost every church in the Presbytery! With God, anything is possible.
Mission work is also a priority for the PYC. Several of our youth have volunteered to assist two city missions, Flora House and Anishinabe, in planning their youth activities. Giving a helping hand to one of the cities food banks, Winnipeg Harvest, has also made the youth feel like they can make a difference in their community.
The PYC's focus is not limited to Winnipeg, however. Events have been held in a variety of towns and cities throughout the province.
PYC activities provide an additional venue where youth can share with others their own age and discuss issues important to them. In addition to participating in PYC events, the youth are encouraged to become actively involved in their own church youth groups. That way they can bring back to their own congregations what they have learned and encourage others to participate.
With the ease of communication in today's society, what better way to let people know about who and what the PYC is about than via the Internet. A PYC Website was developed to keep youth abreast of upcoming activities. The PYC also publishes a newsletter three-four times a year called "The Corner." It is mailed free of charge to any persons interested in receiving it as well as to all the Presbyterian congregations in the Synod of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. It is put together entirely by the youth and includes articles written by and for — you guessed it — youth.
I have seen first hand how God has restored to existence the excitement of being a Christian into the hearts and minds of the youth in this province. It is always amazing to see how God's love can change a person. The youth in Manitoba are thirsty and ready to receive the living water!
For more information on the Presbyterian Youth Council, please contact
- Rick Shone
Presbyterian Youth Council President,
c/o 251 Bannerman Ave.
Winnipeg MB R2W 0T8