Start at the beginning…A Historical Perspective
Regions in the International Youth Department have enjoyed a long, rich history. However, it is in the last 12 years that the IYD Regions have developed a greater impact and relevance with the introduction of Regional Rallies.
Regional Rallies were introduced to the department under the leadership of then Int’l Youth President J. Drew Sheard. Together with the International Music Department they were first developed as “MY” Rallies, following the same conceptual structure of the “MY” convention in A.I.M. The Rallies were designed with youth and youth workers in mind, giving an opportunity for the International leadership to reach the youth and youth leaders from coast to coast in a uniquely tangible and personal way that could not be achieved in the national departmental conventions. Ostensibly the Rallies are conducted with several overriding purposes:
- To generate enthusiasm, excitement and participation among the youth, promoting awareness of the various programs and activities of the International Youth Department and driving greater zeal and attendance in the International AIM Convention.
- To conduct sessions allowing the national department leadership time with the jurisdictional presidents and chairladies, communicating the vision, initiatives and strategic plan of the department. This enhances cohesiveness and connectivity between the local youth leaders and the national department, engendering excitement and energy on the part of “grass roots” local youth workers, spurring growth of the national work.
- To allow youth all over the country to experience the power and impact of the national ministries at the local level, particularly for those youth whose personal economic conditions would not facilitate them attending a national meeting in a particular year.
- To allow the youth an opportunity for fellowship, while giving them quality time and exposure to the national leadership.
With this in mind, then President Sheard, working with then International Music President Luvonia Whittley, introduced the concept to take these services around the country calling together the youth and youth workers from all over a particular geographic area to come to a Music and Youth or “M.Y. Rally”
During the first year the rallies were held, beginning the Spring of 1998, there was a tremendous response and enthusiasm from all of the youth, workers and committed departmental staff. The Rallies grew from the very first year in size and impact as around the county the influence of the programs of the national departments were felt during these times of fellowship and Worship.
During subsequent administrations, the Music and Youth departments began to each support their own separate departmental rallies around the country, but the impact of these events rather than diminishing grew and the Regional Youth Rallies as the IYD regional events became subsequently known, continued to leave an indelible imprint on the lives of the youth.
For a brief period, in order to focus departmental resources and organizational energy on other priorities, the focus was taken off of organizing Regional Rallies. However in the recent past under our current leadership of the Presiding Bishop and our International President, the Regional Youth Rallies have returned in full strength and are now being planned and conducted around the country.