Twenty three children and youth accompanied by seven adult chaperones and two Keeler granddaughters attended the lively and wonderful 2014 Montreat Music and Worship Conference from June 22 – 27. The theme for 2014 was “Rise Church.” This is the second year in a row that Sea Island was represented at this annual and very popular conference. Our young people participated in age appropriate choral groups, learned several pieces of music in five days, were exposed to bells and bongo drums, participated in Bible study, art and recreation, and visited the infamous “Huckleberry” for ice cream and climbed Lookout Mountain in their spare time! Far away from home, our “kids” did not skip a beat and adjusted quickly to the weekly schedule: Feet hit the floor at 6:30 in the morning in order to prepare for the day followed by Morning Prayer at 7:00, breakfast at 7:15, and a quick walk to Anderson Auditorium and surrounding area where the morning was filled with workshops beginning at 8:00 and ending at 12 noon. After gathering in the commons area we made the return exodus to Trevor Trace cottage where lunch was waiting. Following a short respite, everything started all over again ending at 4:30. The next few hours were spent swimming and rock hopping, then before we knew it, it was time for supper and then back to Anderson Auditorium for evening events. As the dark shadows of night began to fall, it was a joy to see our young people fellowship with new friends as they chased “lightning bugs” and met in small groups around Lake Susan. We did our best to turn out the lights by 10:30 as we soon discovered sunrise comes early!

One of the truly meaningful highlights of the week was the closing Music Festival on Friday evening. 1,200 men, women, youth and children gathered in Anderson Auditorium for a program that consisted of organ music, choral and bell choirs, and a congregational hymn sing from the new hymnbook, Glory to God. I cannot adequately express how glorious the music was especially as our young people shared anthems with their particular groups, the Children’s and Middler choirs, both receiving standing ovations. Now that we have returned home, our goal is twofold. First, we hope to utilize what we have learned at Montreat by incorporating different things into the ministry provided for our children and youth. Matter of fact, this is how the Sunday evening program started last fall for our elementary aged children. For two hours they shared in music, art, Bible study, dance and drama. It will be interesting to see what happens this fall! And second, we hope to build on the last two years by hopefully taking more people next summer and adding a third cottage! On behalf of the children and youth, and their chaperones, thank you for your support and prayers, and thanks be to God for a good and safe week. The week at Montreat was magnificent!

Peace and Grace,

+ Pastor Steve