2014 State Retreat

2014 Tennessee State Youth Retreat
November 7-9 | MainStay Suites | Pigeon Forge, TN
More than 250 Free Will Baptist students, parents, and youth workers from 17 churches and four states gathered in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, November 7-9, for the 2014 Tennessee State Youth Conference. The annual conference is structured for students in grades seven through college, and this year, explored the theme, “The Gap.”
Students were challenged to close the gap between who they are and the person God wants them to become. Keynote speaker Barry Raper (below), director of the Pastoral Ministry program at Welch College, challenged students to identify things that keep them from serving God fully and to surrender those things to Him. He spoke from Hebrews 12, Philippians 4, and Romans 12, challenging students to a deeper and growing relationship with God.
“Barry couldn’t have been more practical,” said Ken Akers, Tennessee Christian Education Board member. “He spoke directly to where our kids are and gave them easy-to-understand principles from the Word of God to take them to the next level in their faith.”
Ryan Lewis, worship leader at Cofer’s Chapel Free Will Baptist church in Nashville, Tennessee, led students in worship throughout the weekend, with the help of guitarist Nick Coleman. The duo combined age-old hymns of the faith with new praise songs coordinating with the conference theme. Saturday evening began with a concert of prayer, an hour-long time of corporate prayer that left kids weeping as they prayed together across the conference center.
Between sessions, students and youth workers enjoyed crazy games such as “Plunger Pairs,” “Clothespin Craziness,” and the infamous “Noseflatables.” The bizarre but fun activities left everyone short of breath but full of laughter.
On Saturday afternoon, groups enjoyed exploring the nearby attractions, from hiking in the nearby Smoky Mountains to go-kart rides at local amusement parks, shopping in local outlets, and visiting Cades Cove. The hungry ended the great afternoon by devouring 75 extra-large pizzas in 15 minutes!
“Once again, the TNCE Board did a wonderful job providing an opportunity for spiritual growth,” said Megan Morgan, youth worker at Head’s Free Will Baptist Church in Chapmansboro, Tennessee. “At the same time, we had a lot of fun, both at the retreat and in the times we spent together as a youth group. We always leave excited about next year.”
Christian Education Board Chairman Ken Akers encourages youth groups across the state to begin planning now to attend the retreat November 6-8, 2014.
Enjoy the 2014 highlights video!