On July 17-20th, Mid-America youth and adults convened at Drury University in Springfield for the Christian Regional Youth (CRY) Festival. Erin Reed-Cooper traveled from Atlanta, GA to deliver a keynote address focusing on the theme 'Finding God in the Highs & Lows', based on Romans 8:38-39.
Throughout the four days, in addition to the keynote address and family group discussion, participants attended workshops on subjects such as Biblical interpretation, racism, social justice, healthy lifestyle choices, Jesus, Islam, prayer and more. For the second year, CRY attendees spent an afternoon of service in their host community; this year, they had the choice of painting and cleaning a early childhood learning center, repairing trails at a water conservation area, or writing letters to government officials.
According to many of the CRY ‘veterans’ present, this year’s festival was one of their most memorable events, one that they claim is historic in its sacredness, relational, and life-giving ministry. Also historic was the diversity of those present. The 2017 CRY family consisted of participants diverse in age, race, sexual orientation, biblical interpretation, culture, ethnicity, political inclination, economic circumstance, religion, culture, and faith. There was a true representation of society. Yet there was something…different. Something that was odd, unfamiliar, that stood out in this small CRY society. There was celebration. Not in spite of the diversity, but because of it. Instead of ignoring the differences, these differences were embraced and honored.
Heard repeatedly every year, is that CRY is the “Real World”. CRY is “Home”. In a very brief few days, each is sustained and fed enough to get through the remaining 360 days. This may seem cynical to many, but it is just the opposite. At CRY is found unconditional love, laughter, support, forgiveness, freedom and grace. At CRY is found what church seeks, strives to become, but sometimes fails. At CRY is found the Kingdom of God.
Officers for the coming year are President Brenen Sullivan of First Christian Church in Marshall, Vice President Khotso Moore of Webster Groves Christian Church, and Secretary Ashlyn Robbins of First Christian Church in Marshall. See the whole Cabinet list here.
Story by CRY Coordinator Kris Milliron.
Photos courtesy of Kris and Brian Kirk.