Faith Exploration Weekend
By Fred Koenig
From the beginning, the weekend, which is typically held in early March, involves the youth visiting churches that share in the historic roots of United Methodists that far predate the denomination known as United Methodist, or even Christianity. The other churches visited typically include a Jewish Synagogue, a Roman Catholic Church and a Greek Orthodox Church.
Other churches have been added along the way as the schedule permits to expand cultural perspectives. This year the youth were able to attend a Seventh Day Adventist service at Ebeneezer which was in Spanish.
The church also hosted a French-speaking service in its basement at the same time. During the visits the youth were given opportunities to ask the church leaders questions about their faith.
In the Kansas City area, there were 70 participants from eight churches. The host church was Chirst UMC in Independence. Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase gave the final talk. He started things off with the youth by giving them an idea of size of the United Methodist Church. The global population is about six and a half billion, of those about 2.1 billion are Christians. Of those Christians, about 9 million are United Methodists. He went on to say how Confirmation is a time of choice.
“You didn’t choose your family, and up until now most of you didn’t choose your church. Now you are making a choice – you can choose to follow Christ and become a full-member of the United Methodist Church,” he said. He explained being saved by grace, referring to the scripture Ephesians 2, verses 8 – 10: “We recognize through Baptism that God loves you before you’re even aware of it,” Bishop Schnase said. “God desires a relationship with you. Jesus invites you to follow him.”
Bishop Schnase recalled his own experience when he was the same age as the youth, and he knelt at the front of the church during a revival led by Rev. Lynn Henderson.
“One of the things I said as I prayed was yes,” he said. “You can say yes to life, love and service. You can say yes to Jesus and to God.” The service concluded with the sacrament of communion.