In addition to testing sound equipment, checking meal plans, and taking care of other details just prior to the start of the All Ontario Youth Convention, organizers also met with the delegates of Classis Niagara (a regional group of churches).
Sid Couperus, chair of the classis meeting, said, “This classis meeting had an overture asking how we might strengthen youth ministry leadership in our classis. We found the [convention] venue an inspiring place for this conversation,” said Couperus. “We wanted to bridge the gap between church leaders and youth ministry and [noted] the impact this convention has on many of our students.”
The classis normally meets in May, and Couperus said it seemed a small sacrifice to travel an hour-and-a-half to be on site as more than 800 young people and leaders were gathering. “Here is an opportunity to witness what God is doing among our youth, to join the leadership team in praying for the weekend, and to bless and thank the leadership team,” he said. Delegates were encouraged to stay and participate in some or even all of the weekend, and to pray for it.
Delegates to classis followed a typical classis agenda for the morning and then shared lunch with the convention planning committee. After lunch, the convention leaders gave a brief presentation and spent time in prayer for the weekend ahead. “What struck me,” said classis stated clerk Rich Loerop, “was how appreciative the leaders were of us coming here and being present, connecting, encouraging, blessing. It was extra work for them.”
Ann Elise Hoogendaam, the classis youth administrator, expressed appreciation for the leaders in Classis Niagara. “They’re invested in seeing the youth grow and are willing to go out of their way to help expand their horizons. There’s a recognition that God is doing something, and they want the youth to be a part of it.”