“Be The Spark:” YCLC Hosts Program Uniting Youth With The Body Of Christ
The Young Clergy Leadership Conference (YCLC), an organization and movement comprised of youth who aim to bring God back into the world and unite people beyond race, culture, and denomination, hosted its first prayer breakfast and dinner on Saturday, December 7. The organization was created earlier this year under the leadership of Youth and Young Adult Ministry (YAYAM) National Director Kaeleigh Moffitt. “YCLC is a place for our generation of leaders to come together as brothers and sisters and inherit from our elders to rebuild our generation,” said Moffitt. “I want YCLC to be the spark.”
More than 70 guests and YCLC members filled the Bergen-Morris Room at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, New Jersey, to enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet and receive inspiration, following a similar program format of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) co-sponsored by Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). Moffitt shared about her upbringing in the Unification movement, which emphasized treating everyone like family, while several speakers addressed the challenges of today’s generation, including the topics of God, faith, and unity.
“In this world it’s not comfortable to talk about God or spirituality,” said Sancha Ogden, who emceed the morning program. “So, it really has to start with young people to bring God back into the world.” ACLC National Co-Chairman Bishop Jesse Edwards also shared an inspirational message reflecting on how he joined ACLC and his time with Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, co-founder of FFWPU. He recalled how 20 years ago Rev. Moon urged pastors of all faiths to start a movement to unite America and the world. “When I joined ACLC, I did not know why I joined,” said Bishop Edwards. “I just knew this was where God wanted me to be.” He encouraged everyone to follow God’s calling in their lives.
A panel discussion featuring Rev. Desmond Antley, minister Edward Long, and pastor Jermaine Bishop, Jr., addressed solutions to the faith crisis of young generations. Rev. Antley, assistant pastor at Good Shepherd Ministries in South Carolina, presented the reality of this millennial, information-based generation, where youth look for a purpose or reason for doing something. “This drives us away from being what God has planned for us to be,” said Rev. Antley. “Living a 9-to-5 life and ‘just existing’ does not help people find their purpose or God’s truth.”
Minister Long, an evangelist and radio talk show host of Lit Nights with Ed Long, also shared his thoughts on the faith crisis. “Many people say Generation Z is losing their faith, but that’s just people discounting our faith,” he said. “God can speak to you, and He can speak through you to speak to the world, if only we are open to it.” Los Angeles Family Church co-pastor Jermaine Bishop, Jr., then shared about his journey toward finding the Unification movement, recalling how he lost his way and purpose after his parents’ divorce. “I was miserable; I went from place to place and met people of different faiths who loved God, but I struggled to find someone to show me and teach me my values,” he said. At his first Unification movement Sunday service, Pastor Bishop said he immediately felt loved and embraced.
The prayer breakfast concluded with Clifton Family Church pastor Crescentia DeGoede, who spoke about the definition of church. “Some people think church is a building, but church is the heart, love, and communion we have with one another,” she said. “Church is where we serve together, or serve each other.” She advocated redefining the meaning of church for young generations in order to shatter apathy. “We are the leaders of today, not tomorrow,” said Pastor Crescentia. “We will bring out the love in this world through Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon’s efforts in bringing every culture, denomination, and race for the purpose of uplifting God, and we will create one nation under God.” Dr. Moon, co-founder of FFWPU, has continued the peacebuilding legacy of her late husband Rev. Moon by initiating global peace rallies, among various efforts.
Participants later reconvened at West 43rd Street in Manhattan, New York, for a prayer dinner and panel discussion featuring the same speakers. FFWPU-USA President Rev. Demian Dunkley also came to support the program and felt empowered by the energy of the youth. “YCLC is not something to keep our youth busy,” he said. “I want them to take over as leaders.” ACLC National Co-Chairman Dr. Luonne Rouse shared similar sentiments about YCLC and its endeavor to make a difference. “You put joy in my heart,” he said. “You stir my soul to want to do more, to ask God for more time, and more opportunities to see what the youth can do.”
Participants were encouraged to attend the official launch of YCLC on Saturday, December 28, and continue their involvement in youth ministry, dedicating their lives to God and faith-based leadership pursuits.