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‘Reload’ Event Fires Up Urban Youth Workers

CHICAGO, IL (April 6, 2011) — It wasn’t only young people who showed up at Saturday’s “Reload” conference for urban youth workers at North Park University.

“I’ve been loving on teenagers for 50 years,” said one participant. Others had been ministering among teens for nearly as long.

That same love for teenagers led 380 people from as far away as Virginia, Wisconsin, and Missouri to participate in Reload. Seventy of the attenders were themselves youth who enrolled in a track for teens.

“It truly was a reload for me,” one worker said. “I desperately needed this. I was beginning to think that I was the only one who was exhausted and burnt out. I was so encouraged and can’t wait to bring my team next year.”

“People kept saying how beneficial this experience was for them,” said Ginny Olson, co-director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies (CYMS) at the university.

One of the attenders, Derrick Toye, posted on Facebook, “I loved the way that the teachers and the preachers contextualized God’s word and laid it out in a relevant urban context aimed at the heart of youth ministry.”

Efrem Smith, superintendent of the Evangelical Covenant Church Pacific Southwest Conference, inspired the audience with his talk on preaching to adolescents. Smith has a long history of youth ministry and is the author of Raising Up Young Heroes and The Hip Hop Church.

Workshops during the daylong event included “Bruises on the Soul: Healing for the Abused, Hopeless, and Helpless,” “When the Men are MIA (Missing in Action),” and “Becoming a Hope Dealer: Effective Street Youth Outreach.”

This was the seventh year that CYMS has partnered with the Urban Youth Workers Institute to sponsor the event. The center is a unique partnership of North Park Theological Seminary, North Park University, and the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Department of Christian Formation.

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