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600 Ohio, Allegheny West Youth Connect With Christ at Rally

Story by Heidi Shoemaker; Photos by Joel Johnson
Published 12/6/12

Steve Carlson, Ohio Conference Youth Ministries director, recognized that Seventh-day Adventist youth don’t get many opportunities to connect and worship together. His solution? Put on a youth rally for young people across Ohio, and he made sure to include Allegheny West Conference (AWC) youth.

After more than a year of coordination and planning, Carlson and Joel Johnson, AWC Youth Ministries director, hosted “ConneXtion With Christ … Finding Your Identity!” at the Worthington (Ohio) church. Nearly 600 high school students “from schools, churches and conferences connected with each other and with Jesus,” reports Carlson.

Highlights from the daylong event include an energizing talk by Mackenzie Kambizi, AWC pastor of the Parkwood church in Toledo; humor and sleight of hand antics from pastor and Christian comedian Lyndy Phillips of Dallas, Texas; as well as a youth praise band that provided uplifting and contemporary music. Students from Mount Vernon Academy, based in Mount Vernon, Ohio, attended en masse and showcased their drama team. Many from Spring Valley Academy in Centerville also attended, including their school choir. “We also had youth groups from every corner of the state,” adds Carlson. The event concluded with an evening of games and sports, where the 250 youth that stayed broke into groups.

Reviews from the rally have been overwhelmingly positive. “ConneXtion was awesome. Glad I got to go. It was a wonderful day to worship together with lots of youth. Thanks Ohio and Allegheny West conferences! You did an awesome job!” said Justin Gallion from Ohio Conference’s Wooster church.

Plans are already under way for the next ConneXtion youth rally, scheduled for November 2, 2013, in central Ohio.

Lindsey Conkle, a student from Spring Valley Academy, gets pulled from the audience to assist pastor and comedian Lyndy Phillips during one of his tricks.


Students from Mount Vernon Academy pause from activities at the ConneXtion youth rally to say, “Cheese.”


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