Participants work together during a scavenger hunt, one of the icebreakers for OIMC Youth Day.
For many years, the University-Church Relations team at OCU has welcomed young persons and their families from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) for a special day filled with activities and worship. This cooperative event is planned jointly by OIMC young people and students from the Wesley Center at OCU.
Several months ago, these groups decided to revisit the purpose for the day and see if changes should be made to more effectively address current needs of the young people who attend.
That effort yielded great results and record-breaking attendance at the 2010 OIMC Youth Day, held on campus Saturday, Feb. 20.
Approximately 300 individuals, representing 25 churches, attended Youth Day.
The Cookson/Canterbury charge had the largest participation by a group. The award to the group traveling farthest was well deserved; that honor went to Lawrence Indian Church, for traveling more than 300 miles from Lawrence, Kan., to participate in the day.
Some of the changes this year included scheduling the event earlier in the year and at an earlier time of day.
Lunch was moved to the Freede Center, allowing easy access to the free-throw contest site and opportunity for others to visit and play games in the same area. Dr. Sharon Betsworth, Wimberly School of Religion director, happily accepted the invitation from participants to visit with a professor.
OCU students enrolled in the American Indian Scholarship Program were on hand to share their stories and help with the event.
Bishop’s Scholars assisted with games and led tours of the campus. Kendall Weimer from the Admissions Office shared information with high school juniors and seniors about applying to attend OCU and financial aid opportunities.
The closing worship service featured Native hymns led by participants from across the Conference. Mike Svitak, pastor of New Hope UMC in Dewey, was the preacher. His message, "Dreams and Visions," encouraged young persons and adults to claim their identity and heritage as Christian Native people.
After the service, many attended the basketball game and cheered the OCU men to a home victory.
Special thanks go to Josephine Deere of the OIMC Conference office staff and to Erin Floyd, a junior religion major, for coordinating the day. This intergenerational event is always one of the highlights of the year in the ministry of The United Methodist Church on the OCU campus.
OIMC Youth Day also is a great opportunity for participants to learn more about the American Indian Scholarship program. Each year, OCU awards 15 scholarships—covering tuition, fees, basic room and board, and books—to qualifying American Indian students who choose to pursue their education at OCU.