Participants reflect on Convo 2019

youth mission trip
On the last day of Convo, participants shared their reflections on a week of mission, fellowship and fun.

Bryan Gates of Christ Moravian Church in Calgary, Alberta, shared, “I am truly grateful to have had a chance to take part in our churches, with their incredible history of mission work. And there is nothing I would trade for this opportunity to learn and grow.  I hope that I can share the things I’ve learned here with others at home, and remember them always as I continue my faith journey.”

Libby Paden of First Moravian Church in Dover, Ohio, shared, “My expectations of Convo 2019 were met and mostly exceeded, and I am forever grateful. We dove right into our Moravian roots and we continued each day to learn more and more, all while still serving this community who welcomed us with open arms.  I also expected that as we learned about our Moravian roots, I would have known lots of the history, but it turned out I only knew just a very small amount.”

When asked where he had found his mission roots, Eli Stovall of Raleigh Moravian Church, answered,I feel as if I found my mission roots through the many years of attending Laurel Ridge summer camp. Through the people there I have found a need to spread the joy I have found in the lord to those in need of some joy. I am well aware that my roots still have so much further to spread before they are fully-grown; this growth can only occur if I tend to them and nurture them.  Only by helping those in need and caring for those who require care will I be able to understand what it means to spread the light of God.

Kaile Reid of John Hus Moravian in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he found his “mission mind” from his family. “My mother was an elder for my church for a number of years and she will always evangelize in and around the community; this sparked my interest. Then my brother put the icing on the cake by going on mission trips himself to Cuba and Jamaica.”

Alyssa Drath of Berea Moravian Church, Minn., shared her thoughts on how the culture and attitudes of the US Virgin Islands shaped her sense of community.  The attitudes of the people I’ve met from the USVI shifted my perspective on community greatly,” says Alyssa. “Between the five Moravian churches and the abundance of people I’ve met along the way, you can tell they are all individually independent, but they know they can confide in others. They’ve all been through some pretty devastating events together and they work together in times of struggle. The most powerful sense of community I felt this week was when we traveled to Emmaus Moravian Church and the pastor showed us the devastation of their sanctuary and he said, ‘Have no doubt. God will put a roof back over our heads.’ I think that shows a great amount of strength, love and faith from the Emmaus congregation. It’s been such a blessing and amazing journey, and I thank everyone of the US Virgin Islands for it.”

Several of the leaders of Convo 2019 offered their thoughts, too. Amber Roback of Raleigh Moravian shared, “Convo 2019 has allowed the Holy Spirit to stir up joy, acceptance, renewal of call to service, compassion for our Caribbean brothers and sisters and their long-suffering of injustice, a vision for leadership with Moravian young adults and an open heart for a hopeful future both for our church universal and for me personally.”

Chris Giesler added, “Convo 2019 was an amazing event for me in a number of ways.  It gave me the opportunity to spend a week with 15 dynamic Moravian young adults from around North America who are already leaders in the regions from which they come. They were truly an impressive group of people who are dedicated to serving others through their connections in the Moravian Church. 

“As program leader for the Convo I was challenged to deepen my knowledge of the first mission endeavor undertaken by the Moravians.  We hear a lot about people like Dober, Nitschmann and even more about Zinzendorf’s vision for missions, but none of this would have been possible without the courageous work of slaves with names like Rebecca, Mingo and Abraham, doing the work of spreading the Gospel among their own people. 

“At Convo 2019 we learned a lot about the successes and the shortcomings of those early mission efforts, and we reflected on how we are called to do mission in our age. Convo was not just about remembering past; more importantly, it was about finding our calling today.”