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Students Across Missouri Attend Virtual Youth Conference


On Saturday, February 27, 16 churches and over 100 students and leaders gathered virtually for LEAP, a one-day youth conference. Seven speakers shared on the Fruits of the Spirit and offered relevant, actionable messages on bearing those fruits in everyday life.
The recordings of both the morning and afternoon LEAP sessions are available at for use in your local church. Each speaker talk has a set of accompanying discussion questions for small groups. In the coming weeks we plan to release this LEAP content for easy use as a small group or devotional series. Keep an eye out at or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of when they're available.

“ …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23.

Alejandra Salemi, Masters of Divinity Student at Harvard University
Alejandra invited us to consider what actions we take to bear the fruit of love. These acts don’t have to be grandiose and shouldn’t be performative. We aren’t trying to win God’s love. Alejandra reminded us that we’re already loved by God and thus capable of showing and giving love, both to others and to ourselves. We can’t pour from an empty cup, so Alejandra asserts that loving ourselves is the start of how we can love our communities.
Ask yourself: Where do others see love in your actions?

Rev. Angel Rivero, Pastor of Marina UMC in Monterey Bay, California
Allowing the Holy Spirit into your heart creates an environment of joy. Angel reminded us that there’s a difference between joy and happiness: While happiness is a temporary emotion, joy is a state of mind. It allows room for us to wrestle with the emotions we feel. Angel says with joy in our hearts we can move into the world’s hurts and injustices. When we choose joy, we’re able to live like Jesus, who is our joy to the world.
Ask yourself: How can joy transform the world?

Janjay Innis, Director of Faith Formation at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta, Georgia
Janjay describes the turmoil of our society as a rough river. In all of this, she is reminded that peace isn’t just a sigh of relief; it’s equally the assurance that no matter the intense the waters, God is with us. Peace isn’t the absence of trouble but the knowledge that it can be transformed because God is in the midst of it all. Knowing this, we can overcome it. Janjay reminds us that we can find peace in God’s promises.
Ask yourself: In the raging river of life, how can we trust God and find peace knowing that God will carry us to safety?
Rev. Craig Stevenson, UMC Deacon and Lobbyist with Kids Win Missouri
Craig points us to a story in Mark and reminds us that if the disciples couldn’t be patient, then we know it’s only through the Holy Spirit that we can live into this fruit. Patience is a practice. We can exercise this muscle and lean into this discipline by meditating and being quietly in prayer. In our fast-paced world, we can put down our phones and make ourselves wait a little. Through times of hurt and disappointment, we can practice patience knowing that God has a plan.
Ask yourself: What life experiences have taught you patience?

Rev. Jeffrey Williams, Pastor of St. Andrew UMC in Kansas City, Missouri
Generosity requires us to deny ourselves and forego our impulses so that we can give to others. When we know how generous God is with us, we are grateful for the blessings God provides and can be generous with them. When we’re grateful for God’s grace, we overcome the need to gratify our impulses. Only then we can be generous with God’s blessings. Jeff reminds us that God has created enough to go around. We are called to be generous with others.
Ask yourself: What does being generous mean to you?

Rev. Jeanelle Ablola, Pastor of Pine UMC in San Francisco, California
To illustrate faithfulness, Jeanelle shares their faith journey and the steps of faithfulness they took along the way. They offer the ways that faith and justice have met as part of their story as a second-generation Filipino American. Jeanelle reminds us that as people of faith, we must stand in solidarity and have faith that there is good in every person. They share the ways God has been faithful to them and calls us to remember how God is faithful to us and unrelenting in love, even when we doubt.
Ask yourself: What do you think your next step is in faithfulness?

Rev. Kim Montenegro, Pastor of Fair Oaks UMC in Fair Oaks, California
Kim reminds us that the list of the fruits begins with love and ends with self-control. Because of this, love sets the tone for all that we do as people of faith. Thus, gentleness means being the calm and peace in a chaotic atmosphere. It means binding and healing instead of creating division. Gentleness is both about who we are in community and how we treat ourselves.
Ask yourself: What’s one way you can be more gentle to yourself?