More than 800 youth, leaders, and volunteers gathered on the May holiday weekend in Waterloo, Ont., for the 40th annual All Ontario Youth Convention. From across the province, including 20 people who flew from Thunder Bay, they came to what has become the CRC’s largest annual event for a weekend of worship, prayer, sports, lessons, fellowship, and fun.
This was the fifth time attending the convention for Hudson Burgsma of Maitland River Community Church in Wingham, Ont. “The highlight for me is just listening to the bands and speakers, learning lots. It’s a really great event.” Benj&Co, a group of musicians from Woodstock, Ont., led worship celebrations this year. To help people engage in worship, young people were invited to participate in various ways such as filling a small bottle from waterfalls next to the stage and taking up brushes and paint during worship sessions. “I really like the art mixed with the worship,” said Ada Bierling of Calvary CRC in Chatham, Ont. “It’s really cool—you experience worship in a new way.” Reach In talks covered topics including leading worship, addiction, sharing faith, and suicide, while Reach Out activities demonstrated ways of taking faith to the community.
The Prayer Experience is a well-loved and growing part of the convention weekend, with spaces set up for reflection and quiet prayer as well as times available to meet with spiritual directors. Prayer team member Ben Tapp of Belleville, Ont., said, “We’re planting seeds and showing how to water them.” Many young people enjoy the activities, including sports, swimming, an art den, and the convention lounge with games and live music.
Since 1975, young people have been coming together for the convention, looking for growth, fun, new friends, or myriad other reasons. Many of the current volunteers attended the convention as young people and returned to give back to the convention by helping with the prayer ministry, safety, set-up, counseling, leading small groups, and more.
“It’s great,” said hospitality volunteer Bianca Timmerman of Maranatha CRC in Cambridge, Ont. “You meet so many people. It’s nonstop energy because you see God’s love everywhere. It’s a good community.”