In 2003 on Valentine’s Day weekend, some 150 young adults braved the cold weather to worship together at Camp Winnekeag in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. They came out for the first-ever GODencounters Collegiate/Young Adult Retreat weekend under the leadership of Bill Wood, former Atlantic Union Conference Youth Ministries director. Eighteen years later, GODencounters continues to be a place for a new generation of young adults in the Atlantic Union Conference to worship together, hang out, and have a life-changing experience with Jesus Christ.
While the coronavirus pandemic eliminated the opportunity for an in-person event this year, the GODencounters planning committee moved forward to hold a virtual event, February 12-14, with more than 525 young adults registered. Under the theme, “One in Him,” David McKenzie, Atlantic Union Conference Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM) director, and cohosts Teddy Williamson, Mitsuka Attys, and Samuel Cruz set the tone and kept each segment moving from their cozy, living-room-style set.
Guest speakers and presenters for the weekend included Heather Thompson Day, interdenominational speaker and author; Gary Blanchard, General Conference Youth Ministries director; Abraham Henry, Lake Region Conference Youth Ministries director; Shonelle George, motivational speaker, blogger, and psychotherapist; Teddy Williamson, Greater New York Conference Youth Ministries associate director; Israel Mora, Carolina Conference ShareHim coordinator and pastor; Jonathan Coicou, a Northeastern Conference Youth Ministries area coordinator; and Eric Walsh, physician and health care administrator.
Atlantic Union AYM streamed the programs live on their Facebook page and YouTube channel and connected with the hundreds of viewers—both registered and non-registered—via the chat, as well as on the Yapp app that was available to registered attendees. If you missed this year’s GODencounters, be sure to watch the videos by visiting the Atlantic Union Adventist Youth Ministries Facebook page (facebook.com/AtlanticUnion AdventistYouthMinistries) or YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/AUYouthMedia/videos).