Christian Chronicle

A youth rally in a pandemic? It’s not as simple as requiring masks and distancing

After its cancellation last year, California’s Springfest returns to the calendar — but not without challenges.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

Normally, organizing a youth rally would be no big deal.

Adam England would choose a theme. Pick a speaker. Invite area churches.

But the details become much more complicated in a pandemic.

Since 1987, Springfest has drawn California teens to the Westside Church of Christ in Bakersfield — between Los Angeles and Fresno — for a weekend of praise, fun and service projects.

While the COVID-19 lockdown prompted the cancellation of last year’s event, England believes the 2021 gathering can proceed responsibly. 

But even as he strives to make Springfest as safe as possible, fellow youth ministers voice concerns about bringing their groups.

“I’m like, ‘Surely these guys are going to be excited about this,’” said England, the Westside church’s youth and family minister since September. “And I’m literally going down the list, and all of them are like, ‘Yeah, I don’t see how I’m going to bring a group.’ Or, ‘My parents are super strict, and there’s just no way.’”

Oh, the ministers do their best to encourage him. 

Don’t give up, they tell him. 

“I love the idea of what he’s trying to do, and I think it’s important,” said Aaron Stevens, youth and involvement minister for the Mission Viejo Church of Christ, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles. 

But Bakersfield is a four-hour drive from Mission Viejo, factoring in restroom stops and L.A. traffic, Stevens said. That’s an easy trip in an ordinary time. This isn’t one.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the February edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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