Despite the Fear - 2019 Mid-Winter 1 Fosters Hope & Discipleship

February 05, 2019

by Susan Craig / Photos courtesy of Greg Cisneroz, DeLeon FUMC; & Sharma Castillo, City Point UMC
Whether they know it or not, the student leaders involved in last weekend’s Mid-Winter 2019 retreat – the first of two this month – leave behind a legacy. “Mid-Winter is a mountain-top experience that leaves youth and their adults filled with the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ,” said Rachel Puckett, president of the Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM).

The young disciples are members of the CCYM and are fully invested in Mid-Winter. The annual event that is theirs to lead - they are involved in every detail, start to finish. "It’s an incredible opportunity to touch other people’s lives," Rachel said. “As most disciples do, we plant seeds into others and allow God to do the rest. I try to let God shine through me and allow others to see Jesus in my actions and words. By being conscious about this, I know that I am not the person growing the disciples. I am just the tool that God uses to let his love be known to the world.”
Planning this year’s two retreats began in March 2018 with a question posed by Claire Condrey, coordinator of youth ministry for the Central Texas Conference: “What do you want to see God do with Mid-Winter 2019?”
The CCYM team members spoke candidly about their reality, Claire said, “which is so different than ours.” By middle school, they begin feeling pressured to make decisions about college and what they plan to do with their lives; hence the theme, "Despite the Fear."  
Rev. Alan McGrath, senior pastor of Killeen FUMC, addressed the Mid-Winter 1 assemblage of 270 people (counting adults) and encouraged them to consider whether they will choose to live from a place of fear or from a place of hope.
He delivered a powerful message, according to Rev. Mary Gean Cope, pastor of Clifton FUMC and facilitator of a small group at Mid-Winter 1. She remembers Alan from his high school years when he himself was active in CCYM. She has witnessed his “progression of leadership” firsthand and described him as an outstanding leader then and a “wonderful and humble leader” now. “He has remained true to his character all the way through,” she said.
Mary Gean was involved in youth ministry at the conference level earlier in her career, and she can attest that the CTC has always shown a strong commitment to its youth. “I’m humbled to be a part of that, and I’m delighted to watch it!”
Youth from City Point UMC take the opportunity to brave the chilly Glen Lake waters during Mid-Winter 2019
The reason Mid-Winter is so transformative is that it offers youth a safe place to focus on their faith, learn to share it with others and start the disciple-making process, Claire said.  “It gives them the ability to learn from their peers and to be led.” Leading up to and during the retreat, the youth are asked to identify the mission of The United Methodist Church and discover how best to live into it. This is all woven into a weekend of worship, music, small groups, games and more.
Mid-Winter allows the youth to be “unapologetically themselves,” Rachel said. “Why? Because they know that they are being loved rather than judged – something that is out of the ordinary as a teenager.”
Being involved in “the phenomenal CCYM” has been a gift, said Rachel, whose home church is Alliance UMC in the North District. “I am able to be spiritually filled and then go, turn around and fill others . . . It has provided me with a sense of purpose and led me to be proud of my identity in Christ.”
Mid-Winter 2, with its identical format, is Feb. 15-17. It is filled to capacity. For more about CCYM, access A new CCYM term begins in June. Applications will soon be available.