See SPARK Photo Album
Nearly 550 youth and leaders from 56 churches throughout Western Pennsylvania participated in SPARK, an annual weekend gathering sponsored by the Conference Youth Ministry Team (YMT). The 2017 event was held Jan. 20-22 at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh.
"This retreat has strengthened my relationship with Christ. It also brought 39 students to commit their lives to Jesus for the first time, and 75 other students recommitted their life to Christ," said Mollie Landman, secretary for the Conference YMT. Read more about Mollie's experience.
“It was a terrific weekend and the YMT did a fantastic job,” said Amanda Gilligan, the coordinator of Young People’s Ministry for the Conference. “They are great group of leaders and I was grateful for their work.
“The band Sanctus Real did a great job leading us in worship and Bob Lenz brought an engaging and Jesus-inspired talk each session,” she added. “We are already looking ahead to SPARK 2018!”
Bishop Cynthia Moore Koikoi said she thoroughly enjoyed her first time at SPARK.
“The youth and adults who attended my breakout session asked me some provocative questions that allowed me to share more deeply with them about who I am and who God has been to me. I had a great time answering their questions and presiding over communion,” she said.
The response to an altar call for youth to commit or re-commit their lives to Christ was nearly overwhelming, said Ken West, one of the YMT’s adult leaders. “A group of us was ready to pray individually with them as they made their commitment, but we had to pull in more adults from the team and Prayer Room.”
About 100 of those who came forward filled out a commitment card that leaders and pastors will use to follow up with the youth.
While the prospect of spending the weekend in a hotel with more than 500 youth might send some travelers in search of a different venue, Bishop Moore-Koikoi said that wasn’t the case with members of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), who happened to be staying at the hotel where SPARK was held.
“I had not yet connected with the AKA chapter in Pittsburgh, so I went and introduced myself to them. When they found out that I was the Bishop of all of the youth who were also staying in the hotel, they remarked on how well behaved our youth were,” the Bishop explained. “They said that when they initially realized there were a lot of kids staying in the hotel, they were concerned. But, when they encountered our youth, they found them to be remarkably polite and respectful.
“I was so proud of our youth!” she said. “The church of today is blessed by the youth of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference!”