A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
April 28, 2009
A team of United Methodists working in an office in Nashville is looking to youth for some divine inspiration.
United Methodist students, grades 6-12, are invited to design a new logo for the Youth Service Fund administered by The United Methodist Division on Ministries with Young People. The contest is open from May 1 to July 31.
The Youth Service Fund is a grant program funded by youth for youth service projects. In 2009, grants went to projects from Detroit to Kenya.
A good example of the type of projects that benefit from YSF is Immanuel Deaf Youth Outreach headquartered in Nairobi. This program run from within Immanuel Church brings the gospel of Jesus Christ to a deaf community of more than 3,000 youth. A group of United Methodist deaf youth members from the church started the program in 2004 because the majority of deaf youth do not attend any church services.
“I know there are talented young people out there; tons of you! I just want to encourage ANYBODY to enter a drawing,” said Sarah Smith, grants administrator for the division.
The current logo was designed in 1992 by Mark Jones, who was then a senior in high school. He used Matthew 10:16 as inspiration for his dove design. “The dove is a symbol of peace … what every Christian youth in the world hopes for. The chance for world peace is in the hands of today’s youth, and I know we can achieve it,” he said.
Inspiration can come from anywhere as long as it represents the global nature of the fund, Smith said.
“Many of the projects funded by Youth Service Fund would not have been possible without this funding source,” said the Rev. Michael Ratliff, top executive of the young people’s division. “In addition, because of the way this program is structured, even the application process is an opportunity for young people to grow in their relationship with one another and to clarify what it is they are trying to accomplish.”
All designs will be judged by a panel of young people. The winner will be announced on Aug. 10. The winner and a parent or guardian will get a trip to Nashville to meet with a professional designer who will help hone the art into a finished print and Web-ready logo.
“Young people today are interested in whether God exists,” said Hank Hilliard, manager of youth ministry development for the division. “But more than this, they are asking whether God matters. Young people aren’t as interested in talking about faith or discussing issues as they are about experiences and relationships.”
The fund gives young people around the world opportunities to change lives through service projects, Ratliff said.
“It will be exciting to see how a new logo provides the image that becomes a symbol for energizing the young people of The United Methodist Church to fund even more life-changing, world-changing projects,” he said.
“There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between giving ourselves away and finding who God is creating us to be. The opportunity to move beyond a very me-centered culture, to be other-focused, allows young people a unique perspective to discover their gifts, grow in their faith, refine their values, and shape their future.”
*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615… or email@example.com