Youth from the Summit Evangelical Free Church gathered with 1,400 other teenagers from around the Midwest last weekend at the Impact 2001 conference, a motivational retreat designed to encourage the youths' faith and build relationships between the youth group and other members of the Summit congregation.
Six sponsors traveled with the 26 students from Alta to the weekend-long retreat, which is the annual central district event for the Evangelical Free Church.
Hosted by the Mariott Hotel in Des Moines, 1,400 teenagers, sponsors and youth pastors attended Impact 2001, and the audience included churches from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The group left early Friday evening to listen to the first session at 9 p.m. that night, and stayed in Des Moines until early Sunday afternoon.
Bruce Engelmann, one of the sponsors who traveled to the event with the teenagers, said it was an excellent venue for the students to hear a wide array of Christian presenters and then discuss the talks in small groups afterwards.
"First of all, it was a great opportunity for the students to hear nationally-known Christian speakers, and it was a chance for them to work in a group setting and talk about that," Engelmann said. "It was great to see them interact with adults and share things about their faith that they were able to share at that conference. It was a good place for them to open up and talk about the different issues."
The event was divided into four main sessions, and featured Pierce, a worship band which led the audience members in songs, the BASIC drama group, an organization from the University of Northern Iowa which performed different skits and youth motivational speakers such as Terry Priss, who travels across the country to speak at events such as Impact 2001.
Engelmann said he and the other members of the Summit group felt the worship leaders, particularly the members of the skit group, did their job by producing thought-provoking lessons and messages.
"We were impressed with all of the speakers and I think the students really enjoyed the music and the dramas," Engelmann said. "The drama group did some challenging and humorous skits, and we thought it was a very good group to have at something like this."
After each session ended, the students then broke into separate groups, and Engelmann said the time spent in those small groups was worthwhile not only for the students but for the sponsors.
"We as counselors were able to see the real kids when we had them in small groups at an event like this," Engelmann said. "We were impressed with the youth that we have here at Summit. It was a fun time for us."
While the Impact 2001 conference was the last of the old year for the Summit youth to participate in, Engelmann said they would use the experiences gained at the summit to go to similar events in the future.
The youth group is planning to attend the Challenge event this summer in Atlanta, Ga., and is also hoping to host smaller events when their new building opens later this year.