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Winter Connection youth share agape love

By: Dave Stucke, communications associate, Dakotas UMC

God’s love reached out across the Dakotas last weekend by connecting over a hundred youth with each other, with Jesus, and with people in need. Dakotas Conference youth gathered in Bismarck, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City for Winter Connection, an annual event sponsored by the Conference Council on Youth ministries (CCYM). This year’s topic was “Love Is”, based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


Cael Glodt, from the United Methodist Church in Sturgis, South Dakota , participated in cooking and serving a free street meal. He said, “I like it. It’s fun; all the activities, worshipping God and Jesus, and helping out people, like serving this meal.”


Emphasis was placed on Agápē, or selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. The youth at each site participated in a Friday evening worship centered around Agape love- understanding it, seeing it, receiving it, and sharing it. At Allison Hall in Storm Mountain Center, Rev. Karl and Michelle Kroger, Pastor John Britt and youth members of the Conference Council of Youth Ministry, CCYM led the worship service. It included activities for small group discussions, and all youth played an active role. Worship was followed by game time and a marshmallow roast around the roaring fireplace.


Worship SMC 001

Worship at Storm Mountain Center Friday night of Winter Connection 2020.

“I really liked when they talked about love,” said Briar Rose, a seventh grader from Trinity UMC in Lead, South Dakota. “They put us in groups and we talked about where we’d find that love in regular life scenarios. I liked that; that was pretty cool. Our worship was small, in a smaller group, and I liked it that way, ‘cause there wasn’t so many people, and I made new friends, too.”


On Saturday, work groups put love into action by cleaning up an area for a new labyrinth at Storm Mountain Center, and cooking and serving a free street meal to more than 100 people in downtown Rapid City. At the end of the event, they all went to a trampoline center in Rapid City, where they jumped into foam pits, jumped between various trampolines, and played lots of dodge ball. Even there, in the heat of a frantic dodge ball game, you could see agape love being shared.


Sunnycrest WC2020

The Sunnycrest sanctuary was cleared to make room for the youth worship and activities.

At Sunnycrest UMC in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the Sunnycrest praise team and CCYM youth leaders led the worship, and the activities. The youth made fleece hats and scarves for the St. Francis House, and pull-toys for the local Humane Society. After the service projects, they all hit the water at the indoor Midco Aquatics Center.


At McCabe UMC in Bismarck, North Dakota, more than 60 youth and adults worshipped, learned about love, and worked on a mission project— packing socks, underwear and deodorant for the men's shelter in Bismarck. Some of the kids wrote notes and prayers of blessing. In all, 197 pairs of socks and 133 pairs of underwear were donated by local church youth groups and additional items were donated by the CCYM group in Bismarck. When the service projects were completed, they jumped on the chance to visit SkyZone, and indoor trampoline park.

Bismarck Kits and cards

The Winter Connection youth at Bismarck McCabe UMC packed clothing kits and wrote cards of prayer and blessing for the Bismarck men's shelter.


Makenzi Hill, a seventh grader from Grace UMC in Piedmont, South Dakota, enjoyed helping the people in the community during Winter Connection. “Anybody can do that,” she said. “You’re helping someone who probably doesn’t have as much as you have. You can see the joy that they feel.”


Pastor John Britt , who serves the United Methodist Church in Winner, South Dakota,  hopes the event will reach the youth and keep them engaged back in their local church youth groups. He says, “The hope is that these kids will say to their youth group back home, ‘Hey, we should do that some weekend!’” That’s one more way to build connection.”


Flickr photo album of this Winter Connection event


Winter Connection 2020


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