If you have been to Annual Conference, you may have encountered youth who were trying to sell you key chains, coffee mugs, or water bottles.
If you have attended Resurrection, you probably remember the battle of the districts and the hype around the Golden Skillet Award.
What’s the purpose behind all this? It’s the Youth Service Fund (YSF).
YSF is money raised by youth, distributed by youth, for the benefit of youth. Every year, youth and adults, inside and outside of Holston, team up to raise money for YSF. The Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM) distributes the money in the form of grants.
More than 46 percent of YSF donations is awarded through grants. Half of this amount is designated for ministries within Holston. In 2009, these ministries received YSF grants:
- Appalachian Service Project -- Johnson City, Tenn. ($3,000)
- Bristol Outreach -- Bristol, Va. ($3,000)
- Hope for Healing -- Jefferson City, Tenn. ($1,500)
- St. Andrew’s Center -- Chattanooga, Tenn. ($3,700)
The remaining half is awarded to ministries outside of Holston Conference. In 2009, these ministries also received YSF grants:
- New Life Tabernacle Center for All People -- Wilson, N.C. ($2,350)
- Wilson Bruins Junior Football Team -- Wilson, N.C. ($2,350)
- Harvest of Hope/ Society of St. Andrew -- Big Island, Va. ($2,000)
- Kwandy African Social Services -- Accra, Africa ($2,500)
- Mountain T.O.P. Inc. -- Atamont, Tenn. ($2,000)
Thirty percent of YSF money raised goes directly to the denomination's Division on Ministries with Young People (DMYP). This agency distributes money to global ministries, such as Zimbabwe Orphans Endeavor (ZOE) Ministry, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and many other missions.
More than 23 percent of the money is used by the CCYM to support the administration of YSF as well as conference youth events. These events include Discovery, Cross-Bearers, Pilgrimage, Youth in Mission, and Junior and Senior High Assemblies.
For the past two years, Holston has been number one in YSF giving across the denomination! As much as we would like to make that a “three-peat”, we really need to focus on the purpose of giving to YSF.
At Annual Conference this year, the Holston Conference Foundation gave away hand-held fans with the message, “Giving is Worship”. That's exactly what YSF is all about. Giving is worship, and it is just as important as anything else we do to worship the Lord.
Times are tough, and many of us are facing financial hardships, but we can’t forget that God should be the center of our lives. Giving back to God is one of many ways we can worship. I personally encourage you to pray about giving to YSF as God may lead you.
The 2009 YSF goal is $49,000. We are roughly $17,000 short of this goal. If every church in the Holston Conference gave just $20, we could exceed our goal and raise more than $50,000! I challenge you to take this opportunity back to your congregations and raise just $20 for Youth Service Fund. With your prayers and support, we will not only reach our goal, but change the lives of many and bring more people to Christ.
To learn more about YSF, visit www.holstonyouth.com or contact the Youth Ministries Office at (865) 690-4080. To contribute, make a check to your local church with "YSF" on the memo line. Or, make a check to "Holston Conference Youth Ministries," with "YSF" on the memo line, and mail to:
Holston Conference UMC Youth Ministries
Attn: Youth Service Fund
P.O. Box 850
Alcoa, TN 37701-0850
Please pray for YSF and the ministries that benefit from YSF. Pray that God will bless everyone involved and that we will all grow closer to Christ.
Hopper, a member of the Oak Ridge District, is YSF chair for the Conference Council on Youth Ministries.