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Confirmation retreat participants affirm their faith

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas Conference UMC


Confirmation retreat participants shared a weekend of deeper understanding and affirmation of their faith at Storm Mountain Center. Photos by Dave Stucke, Dakotas Conference.

"If you affirm your faith at confirmation. You commit to God. You could choose to walk away, at confirmation you commit to God in front of everyone," says Ella, a participant at confirmation retreat and ninth-grade student who attends First UMC in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Confirmation is not a destination. It is more of a place along the way. A stop along the journey, to renew our commitment to the trip, we have been traveling under the care of others. At confirmation, participants are asked to take the same vows of membership in The United Methodist Church and their local congregation that all who join are asked.

"During confirmation class and at the retreat, you learn more God," says Dylan, a ninth-grade confirmation student from First UMC, in Rapid City, South Dakota, who attended the confirmation retreat at Storm Mountain Center. "After you know more God, you are confirmed. You become a full member of your church."

Confirmation students and adult leaders spent time learning, worshiping, and in fellowship at Storm Mountain Center. Confirmation is not a sacrament in The United Methodist Church, but it is an important step in our spiritual journeys.

Arriving on Friday evening, participants got to know each other through mixer games. Rev. Scott McKirdy, who serves as the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Spearfish, South Dakota, taught lessons about the sacrament of baptism. 

"It is nice to learn from different pastors," says Connor, an eighth-grade participant from the United Methodist Church in Montrose, South Dakota. "I really liked learning about baptism. I didn't like all the singing; I am not good at it."

Those present delved into Wesleyan Quadrilateral, the principal factors that John Wesley believed illuminate the core of the Christian faith for the believers. The four components or "sides" of the quadrilateral are scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.

"It was good to learn about the quadrants," said Olivia, a ninth-grade confirmation retreat participant from First UMC in Rapid City, South Dakota. "I didn't like getting up early, though."

Students making stoles

Students worked on their faith story through making their own stoles.

Participants at the confirmation retreat designed a stole they will wear when each person is confirmed back at their local congregations. Creators illustrated the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

"I really like making the stoles," says Tatum, a seventh-grade confirmation participant from Canyon Lake UMC in Rapid City, South Dakota. "It was fun to think about what we want to put on it."


Confirmation retreat participants learned about the sacraments and taking part in communion in the UMC, where the table is open to all.

Rev. Peggy Hanson, the dean for the confirmation retreat and serves as the pastor at Trinity UMC in Lead, South Dakota, shared the experience and sacrament of communion with everyone present. "In the United Methodist tradition, anyone and everyone who comes to worship can participate in communion," says Hanson. Participants distributed communion to each other as part of the retreat.

Those who attended the retreat at Storm Mountain describe the experience as exciting and a chance to connect. 

"You have different people around you that you learn with. You make new friends," says Macy, an eighth-grade participant from First UMC in Rapid City, South Dakota. "You get different perspectives and hear about different experiences." 

Stole CU

The stoles the participants made reflected their faith story, and each one was unique to the student.

"I like meeting new people. I like the cabins and Storm Mountain," says Logan, an eighth-grade participant from Montrose UMC. "There are no girls in our class at Montrose. So it is nice to come here and meet different people. You learn more about Jesus." 

On Saturday, participants left to their local church and continue their confirmation journey. Rev. Valerie Hummel LaBounty, who serves as the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Montrose, South Dakota, and Rev. Michele Slott, who is an associate pastor at First UMC in Rapid City, South Dakota utilize Confirm for the curriculum

At Montrose UMC and First UMC in Rapid City, confirmation classes are being revitalized, after an absence of participants. "I have invited anyone who is 13 years or older to be part of confirmation classes," says Rev. Hummel LaBounty. "We have two eighth grade boys that will be confirmed this spring. We meet each week and spent time at the confirmation retreat at  Storm Mountain." 


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