August 1, 2022

Young People Flock to Finland for Continent-Wide Event

The 2022 European Adventist Youth Congress promises to offer connection, inspiration.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
[Image: Inter-European Division and Trans-European Division]

A long-awaited event is set to connect thousands of Seventh-day Adventist young people from across Europe in Lahti, Finland, August 2-6, 2022, for several days of spiritually, socially, physically, and mentally enriching activities. 

The European Adventist Youth Congress 2022 (AYC22), under the theme Plug In, seeks to help Adventist youth to connect with God and the people around them.

Youth leaders of the Inter-European Division (EUD) and the Trans-European Division (TED) said they have led a team to plan multiple activities that provide opportunities for connections “which will hopefully never end.”

“We live in a time in which we have more cables to recharge the devices in our house than any other thing you can think of. We always make sure that our devices do not run out of battery,” EUD youth director Jonatan Tejel said in a recent interview. “We need to take this reality to the spiritual realm … to find our rest and rhythm [and] truly connect with God.”

After the opening plenary message by international speaker David Asscherick, titled “Unplug,” participants will be able to keep exploring the topic through such presentations as “Plug & Breathe,” “Plug & Serve,” “Plug & Share,” and “Plug & Live,” organizers said. In the morning devotionals, Sagunto Adventist College president Daniel Bosqued will delve into lessons from the Gospel of John.

AYC22 will also include physical challenges, uniquely Finnish cultural experiences, and opportunities to network and serve others. The event will also include the Impact Lahti community outreach project. Through an Exhibition of Nations and a 5K Run to Help initiative, organizers and participants hope to reach out and connect with residents of the city of 120,000, located an hour’s drive north of Helsinki, Finland’s capital city.

Together at Last

The event, which takes place every four years, was postponed in 2021 due to pandemic-related restrictions, but leaders said they are glad they can meet in person only a year later than planned, five years after the previous event held in 2017 in Valencia, Spain. According to Tejel, almost 2,300 Adventist young people and young adults have registered for the 2022 congress in Finland, something that surpassed the organizers’ estimates.

“With the situation we’re living in in Europe, with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with the COVID-19 virus still knocking at our doors, our estimation of attendance was lower [than that],” Tejel acknowledged. “But God always surprises us, and we have numbers that almost equal most of the [regional youth events] we had before.”

Participants will be lodged at Lahti area schools and are coming from dozens of European countries. The EUD delegation includes participants from Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, and several other nations. The TED group includes delegations from the UK, Adriatic and Baltic nations, and Scandinavia. The Polish delegation is expected to include some young people from Ukraine, and the region is also sending smaller delegations from Greece and Cyprus.

Even though English is the official language of AYC22, simultaneous interpretation will be available during the main sessions in several languages, organizers said.

A Wide Range of Interests

Besides plenary sessions, participants will be able to choose between dozens of workshops addressing various issues that Adventist young people find relevant, including topics such as Disability and the Bible, Bible Journaling, and How to Be a Positive Influencer. Other topics to be offered are God’s Will vs. Your Will, Baptism and Discipleship in Relational Ways, and How to Survive a Faith Crisis.

“Those topics try to address issues that are affecting our youth today,” Tejel explained. “Like sexual purity in a society where pressures and temptations exist, the problem of loneliness, the issue of disconnection from the church. The congress tries to also answer the question: How can we personalize and live out our faith?” he said.

A mini-Olympics sports tournament, a scavenger hunt, a mass choir practice, art activities, and a “Chill Out Lounge” after the evening programs will add options to cater to every attendee and provide them with opportunities to connect.

“We would like every young person to enjoy the congress, [to be] inspired by the messages, by the workshops, by the conversations in small groups,” Tejel said. “We pray that, throughout this congress, every individual attending will be able to connect again and again with Jesus.”

Andreas Mazza contributed to this report.