The Assemblies of God National Youth Convention and Fine Arts Festival, was held this week at the Kentucky International Convention Center, marking the 50th year since its launch as a far more modest talent show.
At least 6,500 youths from the denomination, one of the nation's largest Pentecostal bodies, converged on Louisville from throughout the nation to compete in more than 80 categories ranging from dance to rap to spoken word to American Sign Language demonstrations, reported Louiville's The Courier-Journal. Categories ranged from the overtly religious — such as short sermons and worship bands — to more general artwork.
"The vision is to help kids discover, develop and deploy their gifts," said Rod Whitlock, national student discipleship director for the Assemblies of God.
In all, about 12,600 people attended, including parents, ministers and others. About 500 youths also took part in service projects around the city, from food distribution to building repairs.
Whitlock said many participants from past Fine Arts Festivals are now working in music ministries or pulpits. "There's a real emphasis on, 'How do I take what I've got to share with the world?' " he said.
In the evenings, selected groups of teens performed before the entire assembly, meeting at the KFC Yum! Center, and finalists were slated to be announced Academy Award-style on Friday evening.
Tens of thousands of students competed in regional competitions before being approved to go on to the national level.
Group director Michael Williams, 24, middle school coordinator for the church, told the The Courier-Journal, that he taught the youths as a way of sharing his own interests, he said. He has brought youths to previous festivals and said a highlight of his ministry is enabling them to perform before huge crowds.
Tina Schick, mother of an entrant said. "We need to restore the arts back to the Lord and use the arts as a tool to reach people," said Schick, of Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas, which sent about 100 people to the convention.
The Assemblies of God is a growing and ethnically diversifying denomination, reporting 3 million members in the United States and 65 million worldwide, with 21,000 in Kentucky and 54,000 in Indiana.
By TravelMole Editorial Staff
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
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