by Chris Meehan (South Bend)
Signups for the community-wide Action conference are rolling in from locations as far apart as Grenada and Hawaii. The conference, to be held in South Bend April 11-14, is expected to be the largest gathering of community high school students and adults in more than a decade.
John Burke (Rockford) and Peter Kress (northern Virginia) dig out a boulder in Indianapolis.
Action program coordinator Mike Zusi (South Bend) has invited every high school student in the community and community adults who are interested in Action work, whether they have participated in the past or not. More than 80 people had signed up as of February 27, according to conference administrator Catherine Bulger (South Bend), who expects 140 attendees.
"The conference will be three days of intense talking and training for the work that the Lord has for Action,” Mike says. “We'll discuss how to continue supporting our new starts in the Mississippi Valley and investigate how to live more fully the calling to be city-builders during the school year. We'll also continue working to strengthen the connections between Action and the other program offices. Of course, we're eager to celebrate our 10 years' worth of completed construction and home-repair projects and day camps.”
Plans for the conference include hands-on workshops to prepare volunteers for home-repair projects and day camp this summer, along with firsthand reports from new starts, videos and discussions. Attendees will prepare their own food and stay together at the South Bend branch's community center (women) and at the Greenlawn mansion (men).
“Ever since I heard of young people building houses for the needy I’ve wanted to be a part of Action,” says 15-year-old Joel Jeremiah, who will be traveling from Grenada for the conference with his brother Jonathan, 17. The two brothers were the first to fill out the online signup form.
“I like it that freshmen are invited and that they will get a chance to see firsthand what Action is all about,” adds Patrick Couch (South Bend), 17.
Patrick and a cross-branch team of 13 other students and three adults are working to help plan the conference, holding regular meetings via video chat. Representatives from the Education, Mission, Publications and Christian Life Movements program offices are also contributing to the planning, Mike says.
"I’ve learned a lot from discussing conference logistics with everyone on the planning team. I’ll be looking for new opportunities for collaboration at the conference," says Melissa Sturman (Servant Branch), 18, a senior at Trinity School at River Ridge.
"I'm looking forward to seeing all the different Action divisions and teams come together, and having all the ideas that we'll get to generate and share. Also, anytime the People of Praise gathers together the Lord works, especially when we're united in a common purpose," says Mary Beth Harris (northern Virginia), an adult member of Action who plans to attend the conference.
Branch Action divisions and teams are raising funds to cover the costs of the conference. Travel expenses will be equalized so that participants from nearby pay as much as those who have to travel long distances. Mike says he expects the conference to cost no more than $150 per person.
To sign up, fill out the online form, here