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GODencounters: A Life-Changing Experience for Young Adults

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Joyful young adults hold up one finger to symbolize "One in Him".

Approximately 300 young adults—twice the expected number--gathered for the first in-person GODencounters since before the pandemic in Leominster, Massachusetts, on February 10-12 with the theme, “One in Him”. Attendees ages 18 to 35 experienced worship, revival, and the blessing of catered meals and a prayer room open 24 hours throughout the weekend.

“Our goal is to have our young adults . . . create a oneness with the Lord Jesus Christ,” said David Mackenzie, Atlantic Union youth and young adult ministry’s director. “We want them to know Jesus for themselves, individually, and become one in Him . . . even as He and the Father are one.”

Petrice Wideman, assistant pastor for the Mount Vernon, New York church in the Northeastern Conference, shared Friday evening’s message, emphasizing becoming one with God.

For Sabbath morning worship, Jesús Arocho, a volunteer with Southern New England Conference media ministry, shared a powerful personal testimony of how God healed him. Vandeon Griffin, associate youth director for the North American Division, engaged the worshipers with a message on our need for Jesus.

Following the breakout sessions in the afternoon, everyone regrouped for a relaxed, yet candid and deep discussion about the church, including reasons why many youth are leaving, led by John Coaxum, pastor from the Allegheny West Conference. That evening David Steede II, Bermuda Conference youth director, spoke on the deliverance God gives us. Afterwards everyone relaxed with bowling, board games, swimming and more.

Anthony Whitlow, pastor of the Joy of Troy, New York church in the New York Conference, and one of the hosts for the weekend, presented the closing message on Sunday.

Encouraged and inspired in a practical sense, Eli Irizarry, youth leader from the New Britain, CT Spanish church, said, “I’m trying to learn as many tricks of the trade so that we can get this ministry going!”

Another attendee reflected on the spiritual take-aways: “Find some way to put God in the center of everything. Find some way to make sure . . . it all comes back to him.”

Teddy Williamson, Southern New England Conference associate youth director and chair of the Young Adult Advisory for the Atlantic Union conference, reminds us, “Remember what is at stake is your soul salvation . . . nothing else matters . . . God is there to help us grow.”

Dr. David McKenzie, youth director for the Atlantic Union.

GODencounters praise team & musicians.

Jesus Arocho (left), volunteer for SNEC Media Ministry, gave his testimony and manages behind the scenes with Shawn Santana, SNEC Communications & IT.

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