Manchester Church of Christ to host youth rally Nov. 8-10

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Nov. 1, 2013
Cameron Franklin took over as the youth and family minister on Oct. 20.  Photos by Corey AmEnde.
Cameron Franklin took over as the youth and family minister on Oct. 20. Photos by Corey AmEnde.

The Manchester Church of Christ is set to host the annual Manchester-Ward Street Youth Rally on Nov. 8 through 10.

Located at 595 Tolland Turnpike, the Manchester Church of Christ alternates hosting duties with the Ward Street Church of Christ in Wallingford.

“It’s designed to be a weekend-long opportunity for kids to get together that might only be able to see each other once or twice a year,” said Scott Stafford, the coordinator for this year. “It’s designed to uplift them spiritually. They do a lot of praise and worship and then they have fun activities together.”

The event is open to all teens in grades six through 12 and begins at 6 p.m. on Friday. The cost is $30, which covers food, a t-shirt, speakers and other planned events. You can pre-register for the event at .

Youth from all over the northeast attend this annual event that’s been going on for more than 25 years. Stafford said the event averages between 150 and 175 teenagers a year. To help keep costs down, Stafford said families within the Manchester Church of Christ community will open their homes to house the youth and their chaperones for the weekend.

Members of the church will also donate all the supplies for the Mexican-themed dinner on Saturday night, and they are volunteering their time to prepare and serve the meal.

The theme for this year’s event is, “I’ve got time for that.”  Stafford said the theme is based on John, Chapter 13, where Jesus shows service to his Apostles by washing their feet. “We’ve spent a lot of time in Bible study with our kids teaching them about the Bible and also about citizenship and responsibility, so it’s a good opportunity for them to come together,” said Stafford. “They’ll raise the roof with their singing, and it’s an opportunity for them to have a weekend of spiritual refreshing and fun.”

J.P. Conway is the guest speaker for this year. Conway is from the Acklen Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn., and he used to be the youth minister at the Manchester Church of Christ. The praise and worship leader for the weekend is Sam Souder, from the Church of Christ out of Fairfax, Va. In addition to the speakers and activities, Stafford said organizers try to bring in anywhere from four to eight Christian colleges from across the country to present to the youth.

“They send up recruiters, so it’s an opportunity for the kids to see what opportunities are there for Christian colleges for higher education and for their parents who are welcome to come and visit with the college recruiters as well,” said Stafford.

The Manchester Church of Christ, “is probably the largest congregation of the Church of Christ - or one of them - in all of New England,” said Stafford. “We take that responsibility as a responsibility to try to provide opportunities like this for our kids.”

The youth group has between 40 and 50 junior high and high school students and is one of the largest active youth groups around, according to Stafford. The group is led by Cameron Franklin, the youth and family minister at the Manchester Church of Christ. Franklin is new to the church and just started in his role on Oct. 20. He was raised in Dallas, Texas, and graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in December of 2012 with a degree in youth and family ministry. Franklin said working with the youth is something that he’s always wanted to do.

“It’s that idea that if you love what you’re doing you don’t work a day in your life,” said Franklin. “I’ve always wanted to work for the church and to serve in that way, and so for me this is kind of a dream come true to get to be here and doing this. I get kind of that joy that comes from doing what you love.”

The youth group meets three times during the week – twice on Sunday and on Wednesday night – and Franklin said he’ll be working with the youth to create a more active faith. “It’s a faith that’s not sitting in the pew on a Sunday, but a faith that’s kind of lived out more in daily life,” said Franklin. “An example of things that we may do is mission trips, service things and get kids demonstrating their faith more than just being, 'Well, I go to church on Sunday.'”

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