Legacy United Methodist Church in Bismarck, North Dakota, was pretty quiet on a recent Saturday, even though there were 16 students in the youth room. They were participating in a silent retreat. For seven hours, the participants listened to an audio Bible reading of ten books from the New Testament.
Independently, students did many crafts throughout the day, like coloring, crocheting, making slime, paint-by-numbers, and building Lego. In addition, five different puzzles were completed.
This is the second time Legacy has held The Spoken Word Retreat. This year the youth paired the retreat with fundraising efforts for the students’ summer trip to the national UMC youth gathering in Florida, Youth 2023. Students collected pledges from friends and family to see how long participants could remain silent and listen to Scripture. The group has raised over $2,650 from the weekend. With lots of fundraising efforts this year, they are 85% funded for the team of 20 going to Florida.
While listening to Scripture, students could interact by writing things on large poster boards: verses they liked, questions encountered, and new thoughts or realizations while hearing the Word. There were also prayer and meditation activities, like the large labyrinth to walk through, a painting of Jesus to meditate on, and hands-on prayer stations.
After the time of silence was lifted, everyone talked about the experience. Students shared what they learned and how they felt throughout the day. Most students found the silence to be easier than they expected. They enjoyed the chance to sit and had no demands or schedules to worry about for the day.
“Everyone could share something learned from Scripture that they didn’t know before. The group had a meaningful discussion about some passages that were hard to hear and brought up lots of questions,” said Vicky Vetter, Legacy UMC’s Student Ministry Director.
If your church would like to know more about how to organize a similar Spoken Word event, Vicky will gladly share her planning documents with you. Just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.