Can one weekend make a difference?
The Sumter Youth Network believes it can.
That's why the group, comprised of several area youth ministries, is hosting its second-annual "ONE Weekend" on March 9-11.
"ONE Weekend" is open to area middle or high school students who would like to attend and organizers hope this one weekend indeed makes a difference in their lives.
The event, which started in 2017, was a way to bring collaboration and share resources between area churches.
In the past, several churches would hold separate weekend-long annual youth events, but as friendships developed between youth pastors in the area it became apparent that there was an opportunity to do something new, exciting and for it to be done together.
Delmar Peet, pastor to students and families at Alice Drive Baptist Church, said, "The genesis of 'ONE Weekend' occurred when we realized our past events all shared similar goals and that combining efforts could multiply the time, money and other resources that are needed for hosting large youth events."
"We took the overhead that we were spending (collectively) and put that toward feeding the needy in Jesus' name," Peet said when recollecting on how "ONE Weekend" began to take shape last year.
One of the first youth pastors to sign on was First Church of God's Phillip Beacham.
"It's an awesome opportunity for our students to be able to see other students in the community that have the same faith," Beacham said.
Peet went on to say, "We want our students (of area churches) to go to 'ONE Weekend' so when they walk away that they know they are not alone in the faith in Sumter ... and they feel encouraged."
The students will not only receive encouragement, but also teaching, get to worship together, laugh, have conversations with others their own age and also have the opportunity to minister together.
Friday and Saturday night students are encouraged to stay overnight with their youth group, which is organized by their home church.
On Saturday, the group will pack meals with "Servants With a Heart," which is a nonprofit that helps organizations - like "ONE Weekend" - create highly nutritious dehydrated meals to be delivered to starving and malnourished children and their families around the world. Last year, the group packaged more than 50,000 meals.
Peet also said, "This is a huge resource for churches without student ministers. It is as easy as signing up and showing up."
To register for "ONE Weekend" go to www.OneWeekendSumter.com and look for the registration tab.
The cost is $50 per student and it covers the program, a T-shirt, lunch on Saturday and the foods needed for the packaging event.
For more information, contact your youth pastor or visit www.OneWeekendSumter.com.
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