The Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention hosted a successful Youth and Young Adult Ministry conference during its 121st Annual Session, Oct. 5-7, at the Lakeview Resort & Spa, in Morgantown, W. Va. The YYAM drew slightly under 400 youth and adult chaperones, which included enthusiastic delegates from Philadelphia.
The Rev. Antonio McAllister, Senior Pastor-Second Shiloh Baptist Church, 1433 North 21st St. was in attendance with a group of youth and chaperones from his church.
“Well, I’m actually here in two capacities, as a servant and secondly to hang out with the youth and young adults that I pastor,” said McAllister.
McAllister serves as the Financial Secretary for the YYAM/PBSC.
“I’m here, to kind of hang out and gel and create some camaraderie with my young people,” he said. “So this first night, where we’ve come together to just let our hair down, from the different regions around the state of Pennsylvania, to have a great time celebrating Jesus. It’s been a joyous time thus far, and the best is yet to come.”
According to McAllister, his church historically hasn’t been involved with conventions or religious organizations beyond Philadelphia.
“I think it’s very important in this day and age, when we’re losing our children on a daily basis to the streets, to let them know that there are people even beyond the streets of Philadelphia, even beyond your church, even beyond your family, that love the Lord. And also, that you can come together for three and a half days and celebrate Jesus,” he said.
Omar Gaffney, the praise and worship leader for United Missionary Baptist Church, 2500 W. Thompson St., also attended YYAM/PBSC. Commenting on why he attended the convention, he said, “To uplift God, (and) to see kids lifting up God praising His name.”
A young adult member with United Missionary Baptist Church. Lionel Brown, said, “We are all youth, we all need to come together as one to support each other.”
Bernard Trey Lambert, III, the previous Youth State President for the YYAM/PBSC, has been attending the conference for more than a decade.
“This is where youth can come together to learn more about Jesus Christ,” said the 19-year-old Lambert who believes the YYAM/PBSC can help youth in returning to their respective schools, communities and churches to better evangelize in sharing the Word of God.
The Rev. Natalie Winfrey serves as the State Director for the YYAM/PBSC. She also serves as a minister at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, in Uniontown. She is very active in ministry service.
“I am a youth director at our church, as well, I serve as choir director,” she said. “I’m also with the children’s ministry, praise team, and secretary to the pastor.”
Winfrey desires life transforming outcomes for the youth.
“I pray that they not only adopt friendship-fellowship, I pray that they attain a spiritual knowledge that’s not just going to capture them for the weekend, but for a lifetime,” she said. “Our theme this year is ‘We Can Change the World’ — and I want them to feel something down on the inside to know that we can change the world, and it starts with them. Through prayer, sacrifice, [and] being dedicated, it’s all about the integrity and the life that they live, so that they can make it to the next place that God has called them to be.”
Jennifer Ellis is the current State Youth President for the YYAM/PBSC. She is a member of Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church in Harrisburg. Speaking about her current presidency, Ellis said, “I love it! I’ve been coming here since I was 11 or 10…it’s a blessing. This is my first year [as president]. I’m excited to put in some work. Even though I’m away at school, I keep in contact with everyone on a daily basis.”
Ellis is a sophomore nursing major at Hampton University.
Ellis was influenced by her grandmother’s ministry leadership to pursue her own leadership opportunities serving in ministry.
“Seeing (my grandmother), made me want to be more like her, to get to new heights that she has not achieved,” she said.
Lisa Morgan, an adult chaperone and Youth Leader at Second Shiloh Baptist Church, desires that her youth, “learn more about God” and how to apply their spiritual gifts to serve in ministry, “to know who Christ is and to have a personal relationship with God.”
Nishay Harris, an adult chaperone and member of Second Shiloh Baptist Church, strongly supports and advocates for youth to attend the annual conference.
“It’s important because, I want the youth to know God, just as I knew God growing up,” she said.
According to Harris, being a Christian is to be kind towards other people.
“So, just to have [youth and young adults] fellowship and to be around other like-minded youth is extremely important.”
Harris is convinced that the social interaction of the youth and young adults attending the YYAM/PBSC conference breeds great fellowship and nurtures their spiritual maturity, “The more people they can affiliate with, the more people that they can communicate with, to talk about things going on in the world and how to handle them in a Christ-like way,” she said.
And, according to Harris, the conferences classes help prepare and equip the youth and young adults to learn “how to handle real world problems that everyone faces.”
There were workshops, social activities, worship services, and community service opportunities scheduled to provide the youth and young adults with outstanding spiritual enriching life experiences. The keynote speaker for the Saturday general session was Philadelphia Tribune correspondent, the Rev. Michael Robinson, pastor-elect of Greater Enon Missionary Baptist Church
For more information about the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention, and its Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The mailing address is 302 North Sixth St., Allentown, Pa. 18102. The phone number is (610) 434-3161.