Three weekends in Gatlinburg: Spiritual retreats help raise $60,700 to fight malaria

Three weekends in Gatlinburg: Spiritual retreats help raise $60,700 to fight malaria

Youth take Holy Communion at the conclusion of Resurrection, this year celebrated by Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. -- In three different events over three consecutive weekends, Holston Conference raised $60,700 to fight malaria and shared the gospel with nearly 12,200 people.

Resurrection, the 28-year-old winter youth retreat, was held Jan. 18-20 and Jan. 25-27 at Gatlinburg Convention Center. About 11,000 teenagers and counselors gave $56,000 to Imagine No Malaria.

On the heels of the first weekend of Resurrection, organizers introduced the first-ever "Rez Kidz" for families. The Jan. 20-21 event, also at Gatlinburg Convention Center, attracted about 600 children and parents and raised $1,300 for Imagine No Malaria.

On Feb. 1-3, the 12-year-old event for young adults, Divine Rhythm, returned after a few years in Pigeon Forge to its original home at W.L. Mills Auditorium, next door to the convention center. About 570 participants, most ages 18 to 35, gave an offering of $3,400 to fight malaria.

Based on the Imagine No Malaria campaign promise, “$10 saves a life,” the cumulative offerings will save 6,070 lives in Africa through prevention and education efforts, Holston leaders said. The total will help Holston meet its goal of saving 100,000 lives (raising $1 million) by June 2013.

Speaking at this year’s Resurrection was the Rev. Lisa Yebuah, pastor of inviting ministries at Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C. Yebuah, age 36, who also spoke at Divine Rhythm 2007, talked to teenagers about putting on the clothes of Christ, being imitators of Christ, and leaving the old behind for the new.

She tied her message to Imagine No Malaria, encouraging youth to “believe all things are possible” with God and to have pride in the United Methodist denomination.

“If I had a jersey that said, ‘Woot, woot, I’m United Methodist,’ I would wear it every day,” she said. “We have a God who would not choose to have human-size dreams but God-size dreams.”

Yebuah explained that Holston’s contributions toward Imagine No Malaria would help the denomination fulfill a dream to eradicate malaria by the end of 2015.

“Imagine No Malaria. Until you have held a feverish child whose life will not be saved, you will never understand how beautiful those three words sound,” she said.

Throughout the weekend, Yebuah spoke to youth about trusting God to help them change for better, no matter their obstacles or situations.

“If you can believe that malaria can be eradicated by Dec. 31, 2013, then you also need to believe that God can do anything in your life,” she said.


The Rev. Olu Brown, speaker at Divine Rhythm, also encouraged his listeners to trust God, to step up to “the edge” and jump without fear in order to live the life that’s waiting.

“God has not given you a spirit of fear,” Brown said, citing 2 Timothy 1:7, “but a spirit of power and love.”

Brown, age 35, is lead pastor and founder of Impact Church 1.0, a United Methodist congregation in Atlanta. He told stories about the woman at the well, Apple founder Steve Jobs, and his own painful steps to start a ground-breaking, growing church. He told worshippers to identify their fears, then leave them behind.

He reminded his listeners that Jesus didn’t “play it safe” but was radical and revolutionary.

“People are going to talk about you anyway, so go ahead and live your life,” he said. “If you let fear hold you back, who is going to do what God created you to do?”

Worship at Divine Rhythm was led by Casey Darnell and his band from Atlanta – their fifth appearance at Divine Rhythm.

Worship at Resurrection was led for the first time by The City Harmonic from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Kendevon, age 14, said that he attended Resurrection last year with Eastside Baptist Church from Lawrence, S.C. He enjoyed the speaker Reggie Dabbs so much that he convinced Justin, age 13, to come this year.

“I didn’t know what it would be like. I thought it was a huge church,” Justin said. “But this is amazing.”

“The music really lifts you up,” Kendevon said.

Youth from St. Elmo United Methodist Church in Chattanooga were the winners of this year’s Resurrection T-shirt design contest. Designed by Caitlin (the pastor’s daughter), the shirts were popular and earned a total $44,000 in profits.

“This is huge for our church,” said Becky Myatt. After a 10 percent tithe to Youth Service Fund, the youth group will use their earnings for a mission trip and possibly for a new church sign to accompany the new church building. St. Elmo was partially destroyed by fire in 2009. 

Holy Communion was celebrated at the conclusion of all events with Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor

See also:
* Live stream videos from Resurrection 2013
* Photos on Facebook for Divine Rhythm and Resurrection
Resurrection group shots on Facebook   


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Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.