Youth conference attracts thousands with music, speakers

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

The Christian youth conferences in Gatlinburg continued the last two weekends at the city's convention center, where around 11,000 middle- to high-schoolers attended the fellowship, worship and music sessions.

Resurrection 2013, put on in part by Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, culminated its 29th year this weekend.

"Youth come here to encounter God in new and different ways and to strengthen their faith," said Laura Lambert, director of youth ministries for Holston Conference. "That's the goal."

Lambert said youth groups from West Virginia to Chattanooga attended the youth conference.

"It's really a youth group event," Lambert said. "It's a time for them to come with their youth group and strengthen it, that kind of thing."

The event featured music from contemporary Christian music band The City Harmonic, as well as keynote speaker Lisa Yebuah, a United Methodist pastor from Raleigh, N.C.

"She does a great job of really diving into Scripture and challenging youth to see what it is in their lives that they need to talk to God about and go deeper with," Lambert said.

Several youth groups also performed in a conference talent show, the Festival of Gifts and Talents.

On Saturday, attendees could donate to Resurrection's Imagine No Malaria offering, "where $10 will save the life of a child in Africa," Lambert said.

Lambert's goal was that every person at the conference would donate $10.

"We don't know if it will work out that way, but we did raise $33,000 last weekend for Imagine No Malaria, which is really huge," Lambert said.

Resurrection has been held in Sevier County the entirety of its existence. It began in Pigeon Forge, but Lambert said Gatlinburg is a great place to hold the conference for a number of reasons.

"For one, Gatlinburg is friendly to the youth groups, and two, it's really nice that you can stay right in town and walk to the convention center," Lambert said. "Everything you need is right here, so that works out well for us."

All of that plays heavily into the youth conference, as attendees were given about seven hours of free time on Saturday to do whatever they wanted.

rhargett@themountainpress.com