First Together We Dine For Youth Held In November
'It makes me hopeful that young people like us are aware of the problems of our world and are choosing to shed light on them.'
On Nov. 6, about 30 teens from area churches gathered at First UMC Dallas to talk about race at a Youth Together We Dine event coordinated with Project Unity. Since its inception, Together We Dine has been providing space for adults to enjoy thoughtful conversations about race over a meal and time of fellowship. Now for the first time, youth were able to experience this as well.
Knowing it was her dream to "go younger with conversations on race," Rev Andy Lewis, Director for the Center for Missional Outreach and Executive Assistant to the Bishop, reached out to Rev. Angela Williams, and offered the support of the North Texas Conference. Williams, who serves as associate pastor at St. Paul UMC and First UMC Dallas, recognizes that youth are already discussing race on a regular basis.
“I wanted to make sure they know that in the North Texas Conference we adults are here to support and guide them,” Rev. Williams said. “When Rev. Andy Lewis presented the opportunity for a Dine, I jumped right on it!”
Her main hope in launching a Youth Together We Dine was to provide a safe environment for conversations that would lead teens to see that all of us are more alike than we are different.
“I believe that if there is going to be a major change in society as far as race relations are concerned, it will be because youth have been empowered to lead the change,” Rev. Williams said. “The NTC is full of powerful youth that I know can make positive change in our world. They have to know we support them in making that change.”
Youth from First UMC Dallas, Arapaho UMC, Hamilton Park UMC, Highland Park UMC, St. Luke “Community” UMC, Grace UMC Sherman, St. Paul UMC and First UMC Terrell gathered with gifted facilitators from Project Unity who led them in thoughtful conversations about race. Adults met separately to discuss other ways NTC youth might come together for continued conversations and work to grow a more racially just world.
The event was a memorable time for everyone. A student from Arapaho UMC told his leader that he considered himself to be an "ambassador." A member of Hamilton Park UMC’s youth group reflected on the event by saying, "The stigma about race is the reason why it needs to be talked about. It makes me hopeful that young people like us are aware of the problems of our world and are choosing to shed light on them." She concluded by saying, "The experience was wonderful, and I would like to be a part of more events like that one."
Hamilton Park UMC youth minister Kathy Griffith said: “We hope to come together for ongoing gatherings in the future. We want to include more youth and keep the conversation going!”
Over MLK Weekend in January 2023, Arapaho UMC will host a time of games, food, a movie and discussion for youth to plan future events. Hamilton Park UMC will host a third gathering in March.
For more information on how your church’s youth can join these future events, email Rev. Angela Williams.
Published: Monday, December 5, 2022