The Christian Regional Youth (CRY) leadership team spent a busy weekend in St. Louis leading the Mid-America Region, serving together as one body.
On Friday night, the team gathered in fellowship to paint and create protest signs. Saturday morning, the youth were invited to lead a brief, pre-march worship service at Compton Heights Christian Church. There, they inspired the congregation through scripture readings, song, and their own personal testimonies on why they felt moved to march. Rev. Dr. Paul Koch, Regional Minister, closed the service with a moving message by our General Minister and President Teresa Hord Owens.
Following the service, the youth joined 15,000 others in the March for Our Lives demonstration and protest. For many, this was their first march; they were awed at the turnout, proud to be part of this youth-led movement, and passionate about the cause.
After the March and a quick lunch, the team headed to DOORWAYS, a residential facility for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. What may seem like a daunting encounter to many held no reservations for this team. They jumped into the community BINGO game with fervor, quickly joining the residents in laughter, friendly competition and fellowship. As the Cathedral Basilica was just around the corner, they stopped by for a tour, a visit with a priest, and a received blessing.
The Cabinet returned to their host church, Webster Groves Christian Church, where they finished their day by planning the 2018 CRY Festival, participating in leadership development training, reflecting on the day’s events, and planning to lead the Palm Sunday service in the morning.
The youth began the worship service by marching in waving their protest signs from the day before, in a reflection of Jesus’ parade of civil disobedience on this Palm Sunday so many years before. Palms were given to the congregation members to join in their Hosannas. The Cabinet youth led the entire worship service, sharing their personal testimonies and reflections during the ‘sermon’, occasionally tearing up with emotion. A summary of their comments included:
“I marched because today’s youth are oppressed by the fear of what event may take place next, what person may get access to a gun they shouldn’t have. We are oppressed by this fear, but we are following our Lord and Savior as we trust He will liberate us from our “Rome”; being those fighting against us and for guns.” - Qu’Naya, high school junior
“As a 17-year old, my biggest fear is often ‘will I be safe at school today’. Knowing that other kids have felt this fear and have seen it happen makes me want to be behind this movement and end the chaos before more lives are taken.” - Adrienne, high school junior
“On March 14th, my school participated in the Nation-wide Walkout, but [others] at my school held an ‘anti-protest’. But those who participated in the walkout, along with myself, were stronger than the other, small crowd.” - Juliet, high school sophomore
“Some of my friends say that participating in events like the Walkout on March 14th will never make a difference, even though history has proven the opposite. For however long it takes, I will walk out and protest until something is changed. I hope that future generations will not have to go through a revolution such as this.” - Ben, high school freshman
"Experiencing a march first-hand was a surreal experience. It was empowering to know that I had a voice, and freedom, to express my feelings about issues that plague this country. I am rarely part of such a collective movement, that right in front of me brought people of different faiths together." - Khotso, high school sophomore
" I believe that you should stand for what you believe in and not let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, something needs to happen and no change ever happened unless someone protested. I marched to help make a change happen in our country. To me this march shows that the youth of this country care about their future and the future of our country." - Allison, high school senior
“The numbers of marginalized and victimized people is steadily growing across our nation. Sitting silently by while others are oppressed goes against all of Jesus’ teachings. So now I resist. But March for Our Lives was something special; a protest originated and led by youth. These youth inspire me, and give me renewed hope for change and a better future for us all.” - Kris, adult sponsor
A special thank you to Webster Groves Christian Church, who graciously opened their doors and hosted the Cabinet members for the weekend, and to the congregation of Marshall First Christian Church, who sent along casseroles, meals and monetary donations to feed the Cabinet throughout the weekend.
Thanks to Kris Milliron for this story, and to her and Carole Hughes for the photos.
Kris has also put together a video to document the experience.