Around 100 Seventh-day Adventist leaders convened in Gangneung, South Korea, for the first regional Youth, Children, Education (YCE) Summit, January 13-16, 2019.
The event, organized by the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, sought to train and foster discussion among regional leaders of youth and children’s ministries and educational institution leaders, organizers said.
Under the theme “Making the Church Young,” speakers presented topics on how to attract young people and make disciples of them to be active and faithful in the church. Speakers included department leaders of the Adventist world church, including children’s ministries director Linda Koh, education director Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, youth ministries associate director Pako Mokgwane, and public campus ministries director Jiwan Moon.
Delegates took part in department and inter-departmental discussions, organizers said. Leaders discussed how to implement better partnerships among departments. The suggestion arose that schools and local churches work together to make sure that all efforts are systematically made to retain young people in the church.
The discussions resulted in a commitment to come together to serve as the basis for establishing an effective strategic plan for this quinquennium and beyond. Among the agreed efforts are connecting local churches and Adventist schools by involving church pastors, teachers, and parents in spiritual activities of the school. Delegates also suggested empowering young people to be part of church leadership; making sure all spiritual activities at schools are evangelistic; and encouraging young people to be missionaries wherever they are.
Participants also indicated a need for recruiting as many Adventist children as possible to enroll in Adventist schools, something that is considered one of the most important decisions that parents can make to keep their children in the church.
“We must care for the young people of the church by making every possible effort,” said NSD president Si Young Kim at the close of the event. Kim shared his childhood and youth experience of faithfully attending church services and programs. Recalling how he was given colorful stars on his paper crown as rewards for his faithful church attendance, he invited Koh to put a big star on his crown, a strong reminder of how important it is to keep our children in the church.
Three NSD department directors — Nak Hyung Kim in youth ministries, Lisa Clouzet in children’s ministries, and Richard Sabuin in education — pledged to work together in regional projects and initiatives.
Organizers said participants provided positive feedback about the event, even though they understand this is just the beginning. At the same time, they felt they were taking home more than enough to get started, as discussions brought to the forefront a need to refocus on children and youth. “It is all about retaining our children and young people in the church,” one delegate summarized, “empowering them to participate, to serve, and even to lead!”