May31ThuMay 31, 2018
For the past 44 years, youth groups across Ontario have eagerly anticipated the long weekend in May for the opportunity to gather at Pitch ‘n Praise to strengthen friendships, to worship without reservation and to boost their passion for following Jesus. As with many previous retreats, this year’s event was not without controversy; nonetheless, the mood throughout the weekend was upbeat and the Spirit of God was at work. Leanne Friesen and Mark Anderson taught around the theme of “Shift” from the main stage, emphasizing the need for a change of perspective to allow God to direct the course of our lives. Small group times following each session provided ample time for students to process what they were hearing.
Joel emphasized the critical need for students to hear diverse points of view in order to form a lasting faith.
Sports tournaments, a talent competition, concerts, seminars and other activities provided more than enough options to engage everyone. For added interest this year, Emmanuel Bible College set up a bucking bronco. Another church group ran their own serendipitous slip & slide under four feet of soap suds.
A surprise highlight of the weekend was spoken word artist, Joel McKerrow of Australia, who presented in each of the sessions with passion and deep insight that resonated. In a teaching session with youth leaders, he emphasized the critical need for students to hear diverse points of view in order to form a lasting faith.
One youth leader reported that nine students from their group made decisions to follow Jesus during the weekend.
Four days after Pitch ‘n Praise ended The Weekend began at River’s Edge Camp in Alberta for the second year running. The event doubled in size this year, drawing students from several churches in central Alberta. Alison Lefebvre and Jesse Nickel spearheaded the event which drew on the resources of River’s Edge Camp and friends in local churches for activities, worship, etc. Grover Bradford, Alison, Gavin Wark and Jaime Hill addressed four themes from the Way of Jesus in the general sessions. The camp offered a plethora of activities ranging from high ropes challenges to horseback riding. Some of the favourites over the weekend were the spontaneous activities like RECA ball and Nine Square in the Air. Youth leaders expressed their appreciation for an event where they could focus on building relationships with students in their group rather than having to plan and run the retreat.
Pitch ‘n Praise and The Weekend both provide prime opportunities for students and leaders to connect, to build shared memories, to hear diverse points of view, and to have deep conversations about what it means to follow Jesus. I was deeply impacted by Pitch ‘n Praise as a high school student and am forever grateful for the influence it has had on my own (now adult) children. These events serve to strengthen the fabric of the EMCC family.
These events serve to strengthen the fabric of the EMCC family.