Approximately 375 young people and leaders attended the fifth annual Kyrie Youth Convention held July 19–23 at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. The convention’s theme of “Bright Lights, Big City” emphasized the priority of missions and evangelism through a series of main addresses and workshops.
Three speakers affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America served as main speakers: Rev. George Robertson, pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO; Rev. Mo Leverett, director of Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans; and Rev. Karl Dortzbach, a missionary to Kenya associated with Mission to the World.
Rev. Robertson led off the main sessions by citing God’s grace and compassion to “mistake-makers,” challenging the audience to therefore “act heroically for Christ.”
Rev. Leverett followed up on that theme by summarizing the words of Micah 6:8: “…what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God,” using both words and music to describe his ministry in a crime-stricken neighborhood of New Orleans.
Rev. Dortzbach concluded with a vivid testimony of his ministry overseas, finishing with an appeal to the students to consider “paying a price” themselves in service to God.
All of the speakers also, in one way or another, accurately noted that “wherever you live, there are opportunities to serve people in Jesus’ name.”
Workshop speakers included: Rev. Mark Vander Hart of Mid-America Reformed Seminary; Rev. Paul Ipema, pastor of the Oak Glen URC; Rev. Dale Van Dyke, pastor of Harvest OPC in Grand Rapids, MI; Jon Vanden Heuvel. chief of staff to US Congressman, Peter Hoekstra (2nd district. MIl; Rip Pratt, youth director at Escondido URC; Pastor Jeff Doll. director of congregational life and outreach at Chino URC in Chino, CA; and Rodney Van Solkema, youth pastor at College Church in Wheaton, IL.
“The speakers were very inspiring — setting an example of the passion we should have for proclaiming the gospel,” remarked one adult sponsor. Another noted that the most valuable aspect of the convention was “that our youth could come and learn about outreach from a distinctly Reformed angle. They need to know the truth and love of our sovereign God.”
A third youth leader said that he appreciated the “focus on the mission of the church and God’s calling for all Christians.” The students had similar sentiments. “I think that this week was an awesome learning experience! I grew closer to Christ throughout this week,” said one.
Another teen stated that “Kyrie is very worthwhile and God-honoring. I appreciated all who glorified the Lord in their talk and deeds.”
Finally, a student summed up what may have been the best lesson learned: “All of the speakers convicted my soul of how little my sacrifice is.”
In addition to attending four of the ten workshops related to the theme, the young people also participated in such activities as morning (alpha) group devotional times, a trip to either Great America or downtown Chicago, basketball and volleyball tournaments, talent show, and evening (omega) youth group get-togethers.
According to conference organizers, the committee’s intent was that all of Kyrie ‘99 reflect the convention’s theme verse, found in Matthew 5:14, 16: “You are the light of the world…let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” More than 290 young people and 85 adult leaders, staff and speakers, representing over 30 churches, attended the air-conditioned (thankfully!) convention which was held under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 90s.
Mr. Ed De Graaf is the Director of Reformed Youth Services, and a member of the Kyrie Convention planning committee.