Down the Hudson River they came on Friday, July 27. 11 members and two leaders of the 4-Church Youth Group of Rockland County visited the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations for a seminar.
The group meets once a week during the summer and once or twice a month during the school year. The meetings include mission events to provide a helping hand and to build relationships with people from all different backgrounds. Three retreats take place each year – times of reflection, Bible study, and group building. There are also times of just plain fun – such as a bowling outing.
During their seminar at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, the participants explored why followers of Jesus are involved in the public arena.
Sophie Beal and Elodie de Bethmann began the seminar with a time of worship. Participants were then asked to reflect on the shoes they were wearing and to share one place those shoes had taken them.
In the first activity of the seminar, individuals were invited to reflect on a time when they had tried to persuade someone of something. Perhaps someone wanted to stay out late or to attend a movie or to get a job. The participants shared their stories with each other.
The activity reminded the group that “politics” is simply trying to make decisions together. Whenever we live together, we engage in politics – as a family, a group of friends, a community, a nation, or a community of nations.
In small groups, the participants were then invited to envision and design and draw a city. This exercise, in a limited way, helped the group explore the idea of the public arena and the public policy process – where we live together and how we make decisions that affect our common life together.
Bible study followed to recognize God’s call to people of faith to live our faith in the public arena: Joseph serving in the Pharaoh’s court; Shiphrah and Puah committing one of the earliest recorded acts of civil disobedience; and Moses and Aaron proclaiming “Let my people go” to the powerful Pharaoh. These are but three of the many examples that fill the pages of scripture.
The conversation then turned to the Reformed theological affirmations that God is sovereign over all of life and that we follow Jesus in all of life. John Calvin, John Witherspoon, Maggie Kuhn, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other individuals and groups were identified as examples of followers of Jesus who lived a public faith.
Ryan Smith joined us for lunch and a discussion of the work of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.
After lunch, a number of ways to life a public faith were identified. Ways that the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations can help individuals, congregations, and other groups live such a faith were named. The participants made Red Hands as one concrete way to live a public faith.
A tour of the United Nations followed and the group then headed back up the Hudson.
Young people from Stony Point Presbyterian Church, Germonds Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and New Hempstead Presbyterian Church make up the 4-Church Youth Group and participated in the seminar.
Over lunch, we also explored ways that the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations can help equip the young people for living a public faith as global disciples of Jesus. Future conversations on this topic will take place. We look forward to where the Holy Spirit will lead!