Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Oklahoma contingent attends Youth 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida


Youth and adult leaders prepare to head to Daytona Beach for UM Discipleship Youth 2023, a conference whose theme was about being bold.
What does it mean to be Bold? Showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit. Sometimes we are called by God to do something, and we feel too scared to do it. Being bold is hearing that call and fearlessly going along with God’s plan for your life.  Young people and adults struggle each day with the world telling them what they should be, what they should wear, that they are not athletic enough, or that they are not smart enough. Being bold is not letting the world judge who you are but letting God guide you through your life. Being Bold is letting go of control and giving that control to God. Be yourself, your God authentic self. Embrace your Boldness!
The UM Discipleship Youth 2023 Conference was held in Daytona Beach, Florida. The theme of the conference was "Being Bold Living Different." The conference brought together young people from across the country to learn and grow in their faith. The conference was a great success, and we are pleased to report on its success. As young people, it can be easy to feel like our voices don't matter and that we don't have the power to make a difference. But as followers of Christ, we know that we serve a God who calls us to be bold in our faith and to use our talents and passions to further His kingdom.
Empowering youth to be bold in their faith starts with creating a safe and supportive community where young people can ask questions, share their struggles, and be encouraged to take risks.  It's also important to provide opportunities for youth to serve and make an impact in their local communities and beyond.
The Youth 2023 Conference was a great opportunity for young people in the United Methodist Church to participate and learn in a variety of workshops. There were over 40 workshops to choose from, including Woman in Youth Ministry, Mission Mistakes, and many more. Attending the Workshops at Youth 2023 was an excellent opportunity for young people to grow in their faith. These workshops offered a safe and welcoming environment for individuals to explore their beliefs, learn from others, and deepen their spiritual understanding. The program was designed to guide participants through meaningful discussions, reflective exercises, and practical applications that helped them develop a strong foundation in their faith. By attending these workshops, young people gained a better understanding of their beliefs, built meaningful relationships with others, and developed the skills they need to navigate life's challenges with confidence and grace.

The Exhibit Hall at the Youth 2023 conference was a bustling hub of activity. There were 25 different booths, each offering unique information and resources. Some of the booths were hosted by United Methodist colleges and seminaries, while others were run by organizations like UMVIM. It was truly an incredible opportunity to learn about all the different ways that the United Methodist Church is working to make a positive impact in the world. I was impressed by the diversity of offerings and the commitment that the organization had to its mission.
The term "Shama" holds great spiritual significance in the Hebrew language. It means "to hear" or "to listen," and encompasses obedience, attention, and submission to a higher authority. In Jewish tradition, Shama refers to the commandment to love and serve God with all one's heart, soul, and strength. This involves not only listening to God's voice and following His instructions but also internalizing His teachings and implementing them in daily life. Ultimately, practicing Shama is a journey of growth and transformation, as individuals strive to deepen their connection with God and align their will with His divine purpose. One of our speakers explained it like this, “Listen with your ears, listen with your posture, and listen with your response.” Being Bold is hearing what others are saying and respecting them enough to hear them out.

I had the privilege of attending the conference with the Youth from Wesley United Methodist Church in Shawnee and Chapel Hill UMC in OKC. It was amazing to see how each young person in the group wrote a short piece on their experience at the conference. I was truly inspired by how they were able to learn and grow from the experience. Young people, your opinions and ideas are valuable and important. You are not only the future of the church, but also the church of today.
Zach Foster
Director of Student Ministries – Wesley United Methodist Church
Youth Reports
Rise Against Hunger – Mission Project
“Working with Rise Against Hunger at the Youth 2023 Conference was the most impactful part of the experience for me. I’ve always felt called to work fighting hunger because it provides physical nourishment and a sense of worth and humanity. Rise Against Hunger is an amazing organization bringing vitamin-packed food to impoverished families all over the world. They have a very organized packaging process that made it easy for us to help them package over 110,000 meals. The meals we measured, bagged, packaged, labeled, and prayed over will be opened again in a school somewhere in the world. The kids who receive these meals will be positively affected in a myriad of ways. Knowing that they have a safe place to get a good meal every day, also gives them a reason to come to school and set themselves up for an amazing future. Knowing that the work we did will directly affect so many kids and families warmed my heart to a measure I cannot express. So much so, that my youth leaders have already been brainstorming about how we’ll bring this spectacular organization to our own community. Working with the enthusiastic RAH staff, for such a meaningful cause has already had an impact on my faith journey.”
Emerson Thomas
Junior at Wesley United Methodist Church
Group Bonding
Trips like Daytona Youth 2023 are a huge opportunity for young adults/youth to bond and grow closer together in faith and friendship. Every one of us on this trip bonded with each other and strengthened our bonds to the point where they won’t get broken easily. Some examples of bonding experiences that we had outside of the conference were late-night movies, Universal, devotions on the beach, and long conversations in the van. These experiences gave us the chance to get to know each other better, discuss life and things we love, and build relationships past a typical friendship level. This trip was especially significant for me because it felt like one last hooray with this very special group of friends. I love my fellow youth and it was very meaningful to spend a week with them and focus on our relationship with each other and with God. Trips like these in the future are vital for the success and development of the youth group and although I’m sad my time here is up. I’m very excited to see the youth of the future experience the same things I did and focus on their relationship with God in a mature and meaningful way.
Alex Porter
Graduate At Wesley United Methodist Church

Impact of Youth 2023
This conference has meant so much to me and I have everyone involved to thank for that. None of you will know the magnitude in which not only this conference but this youth group has changed me and molded me into the person God wants me to be. This conference and other ones like it give me and other youth time away from the stresses and worries of home to completely focus all of our energy on God and I cannot stress enough how important that is at this age level. Because of this group and trip, I now know my calling in life and how exactly I'm going to get there. Because of that, I can proceed in life being a disciple of Christ spreading his love throughout the world in my way. Events and conferences like these will do the same and shape our youth into the people not only God wants them to be but what they want to be and if we want these young people to be the future of the church we need to include them in the now of the church and let them flourish in it. I am so excited to grow and mature going forward with this youth group by my side even if I'm a thousand miles away still spreading God's love. Thank you.
Zion Hibben
Senior at Wesley United Methodist Church
Mission Mistakes Workshop
God opens new doors every day. I never planned on walking into the mission mistakes workshop but when all the other ones were full I took a seat and my life was changed. As a church and a youth group missions are a big part of our faith- it’s what we give back to the community and give closer to God. Mission mistakes opened my eyes so much on how we need to expand our outreach. The mentality I hate when it comes to missions is the one-and-done- we do not come to help people one time and never give them future resources, whether it’s giving them a phone number or a church address they need to know we are always there to help, not just one time. We also need to focus on respectful ministry, these people we help are probably at the lowest point of their life and we need to watch the way we speak to them. Pray with them, talk to them, let them feel heard- never make them feel less then. Make sure their mental health is okay before you leave your mission ALWAYS, getting help is hard for some people and they need to know they are so strong and God is allowing them to be stronger. There are a lot of things I want to see be changed in missions- a lot that revolves around the mental health aspect.
Isabella Johnson
Junior at Wesley United Methodist Church
Worship at Youth 2023
Hi, my name is Bella, and Youth 2023 has impacted me through the worship services. The theme for the week was bold. Being bold means to me to be able to have the courage to stand out and step out of my comfort zone. In one of the sermons pastor Rachel Billups talked about the story of Esther. Where Esther had to be bold and stand up to the king for her people even though there was a risk of her being killed. It takes a strong person to do that and the fear of being killed took a lot to overcome and stand up for herself.  we had serval different speakers that taught a deeper meaning of being bold. Another big part of worship is the music. We had a couple of different bands there and it was such an experience. The band that I liked was called Rend Collective and they played some uplifting and fun songs. This conference impacted me by helping to give me the courage to my share opinion or how I feel about a situation I took away from the conference was you have to speak up for yourself and I’ll use this throughout life and being a youth.
Bella Tipton
Sophomore at Wesley United Methodist Church

The Importance of Youth Conferences
I have had the wonderful opportunity to go to both the 2019 and 2023 UMC Youth Conferences. In my experiences with the “Love Well” and “BOLD” youth conferences, I have found that by attending, youth of all ages and grades are allowed to strengthen their faith and deepen their spiritual connection. These conferences offer an immersive environment where young people can engage in worship, listen to inspiring sermons and testimonies, and participate in a vast amount of workshops that will help these youth become strong leaders in their faith. Not only does this help an individual youth in their journey, but also a youth group grows closer together. Both of the conferences I went to I was able to go with the same youth group, just those two trips, made me realize the incredible family I am a part of. Being surrounded by so many like-minded youth is uplifting and reassuring. For many youth, we only have a few places where we truly feel comfortable in our faith and can express it in our way. These conferences allow youth to learn how to be leaders through their faith. Being in workshops each day and seeing how the spirit moves each person to be vocal and share their stories is an amazing and unique experience. By participating in youth conferences like these, youth/young adults can discover their purpose, develop a deeper understanding of their faith, and become active agents of positive change in society.
Elise Dodson
Junior at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church


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