By Holly McCray
The 2013 Re-Ignite Workshops attracted 2,330 people in January and February. That total includes some 400 youths.
The youth turnout especially pleases Aly Shahan, who coordinates the 11 regional workshops for the Oklahoma Conference. Many of the events included specific programming for youths. And those efforts perfectly fit the Conference’s Strategic Plan, seeking to reach more people, more diverse people, and more younger people.
"I’m most proud of McAlester District," Shahan said. That workshop included a youth component for the first time, and 40 young people took part. They undertook an off-site mission project, as did youths in the Tulsa District workshop.
A nursery is standard, but some planning teams also designed for children. Shahan said 15 youngsters participated in classes at the Muskogee District workshop.
The largest youth attendance was in Bartlesville District, where a youth rally regularly draws a crowd.
Adults "packed" several classes, too, Shahan said. "Conflict Resolution," led by Dianne Peters, and sessions on end-of-life issues, led by Gail Edmison, had "huge attendance."
Classes that focus on specific church roles, such as staff-parish relations and finance committees, always are well attended, said the coordinator. But she also noted great popularity for sessions "focused on things to help you for the rest of your life as a Christian."
"Special for me was, in the Oklahoma City Districts’ workshop, a man walked out of the ‘Conflict Resolution’ class with tears in his eyes," Shahan described.
"He grabbed my hand and said, ‘I wish my pastor at my previous church had known this. I’m so glad we are learning we can work through things, that we don’t have to hate each other.’"
Shahan continued, "It was really beautiful. It made me feel this work is igniting people, not just to be trained, but to be refilled, have more faith in the Church and bring it to their local churches."
The overall attendance increased by about 100, compared to last year’s events.