The 2021 Atlantic Union Conference Compassion Rally commenced on Friday evening, October 8, with a virtual consecration service that aired live on YouTube and Facebook. Teddy Williamson, associate Youth Ministries director for the Greater New York Conference, and Simona Mills-Pitcher, chaplain at the Bermuda Institute, hosted the virtual service that featured beautiful music, dedicatory prayers, and the spoken word. Pako Edson Mokgwane, General Conference Youth Ministries associate director, gave the consecration charge to kick off the compassion weekend. Youth directors and administrators from across the Atlantic Union territory and the North American Division also greeted the viewers. They encouraged the youth and young adults to be the hands and feet of Jesus and live out a lifestyle filled with compassion.
Some 320 registered volunteers, guests, and members of local Adventist churches gathered in Waterbury, Connecticut, on Sabbath morning eager to spread God’s love. Northeastern Conference’s Shalom church served as the main host site, and church leadership collaborated with the Atlantic Union Adventist Youth Ministries team to implement plans to impact the community. Members from Shalom joined with members from Southern New England Conference churches around Waterbury, including Waterbury Spanish, Lion of Judah, and other congregations around Connecticut, to help guide the volunteers in bringing love and joy to the community. Before going out, everyone joined together in an open-air, community worship service of prayer and praise, led by praise team members from Shalom and other Connecticut-area churches. Daniel Velez, Southern New England Conference (SNEC) Youth Ministries director, provided the spoken word.
Inspired by the words from Mills-Pitcher the previous evening, volunteers were determined to come with a passion for showing compassion. Covered with face masks and armed with a conviction that love is active rather than passive, volunteers set out full of zeal to pour out God’s love like streams on several streets around the city. They distributed roses, care packages, and personal protective equipment such as face masks and face shields. They also handed out warm winter hats, socks, and gloves, and distributed copies of The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ in Spanish and English.
As with other rallies, David Dennis, president of the Southern New England Conference, inspired and supported the compassion ambassadors. Members of the Northeastern, Greater New York, and Southern New England conference’s Medical Cadet Corps assisted in promoting safety protocols and guided volunteers in pedestrian-community welfare while providing comprehensive support in directing the crowd, setting up for projects, and distribution processes. Due to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, compassion volunteers integrated prayer walks across the city with the compassion projects. “This is much-needed activity!” noted one resident as she clutched her face mask. “Y’all are really on a love mission!”
As the rally climaxed early Sabbath afternoon, volunteers conducted a final prayer walk and parade from Shalom church to the Waterbury Spanish church. Pathfinder drum corps produced booming percussions and rhythms to arouse the community. As residents emerged from their homes, volunteers used the opportunity for additional compassionate interactions and distributions.
Our love is a choice and a commitment, as well as a habit and a lifestyle. Youth and young adults of the Atlantic Union Conference are determined to love Jesus and share His love with others. May God’s favor continue to abide with all the compassion ambassadors of the Atlantic Union.