Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/990072

Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 18, 2014

It’s time to do their part

By David Hotle | Apr 17, 2013
Over 800 teens from as far away as California will attend the annual Our Town conference at the Marion Avenue Baptist Church Thursday and Friday. This is the sixth year for the event. This year’s theme is teaching young people to resist peer pressure and be true to themselves.

While away at summer camp, a group of 11th-grader Joe Brown’s friends were encouraging Brown to act in a way contrary to what he personally believed in.
Brown said that he had grown up in the church and didn’t feel the action, which he didn’t wish to disclose, was right. Later at the camp, a speaker discussed the importance of not giving in to peer pressure and being true to yourself. Brown stood firm in his beliefs and didn’t participate in the unnamed behavior with his friends. Years later the Rev. Brown of Marion Avenue Baptist Church is happy he didn’t participate. On Thursday and Friday of this week, he hopes to pass that same message on to over 800 young people who will attend the Our Time youth program.
“We are really trying to teach Biblical principles and encourage young people that they are not alone,” Brown said. “There are other people standing behind them and encouraging them. I know we live in trying times for young people. There is peer pressure on all sides. We are just encouraging them to take a stand for what they believe in and try to make a difference.”
In addition to the conference, a fireworks show will be held, weather permitting, on Thursday evening. Brown said the show will start at about 9:15 p.m. and he promises the event will conclude before 10 p.m. He said the event is being held on church-owned land off Nutmeg Avenue about half a mile south of Elm Grove Cemetery and that a professional fireworks company will set off the show. He said it will be comparable to the Washington fireworks show held on July 4. Brown expects about 1,000 people to attend.
The Our Time youth conference is going into its sixth year. The event was born when youth directors at Marion Avenue began talking about holding a program for teens. He said the church wanted to hold a conference that would be “unique.” Brown said the theme for the conference is “its our time to do our part in reaching our generation.”
Brown said 40 church groups from 11 states will attend the event. He said teens are travelling from as far as Sacramento, Calif. to attend the conference.
“The theme this year is ‘stand,’” Brown said. “We are encouraging young people to take a stand for what they believe in. So easy we give into bullying or people pushing us around. Find what you believe in and take a stand on that and stand firm. We are behind you and we are encouraging you.”
He said the entire conference will center on not giving into peer pressure to do things they don’t want to do. He also said every year topics such as substance abuse are covered. He said the goal is to give teens the resources, when they are in a circumstance, to be able to follow their own beliefs. He also said a goal is introducing young people to Jesus Christ.
Youth speakers from five states will present during the conference.

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