Numerous church camps and mission trips were closed or canceled this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but several area churches banded together to give their students the CIY experience they weren’t able to have.

CIY or “Christ In Youth” and the organization has been around for 50 years, inspiring young churchgoers to be Kingdom Workers. Every summer, CIY holds week-long conferences at various Christian colleges all over the country called “CIY Move.” The conferences use contemporary Christian music with live bands, and they present the curriculum in a way that is culturally relevant. They also use social media to play games and spread their message.

CIY was forced to cancel all conferences this summer thanks to the coronavirus, and several area churches decided to have the conference anyway. First Christian Church-Sapulpa and Sperry Christian Church spent three days, starting Tuesday, June 30 at Sunset Bible Camp in Mannford, Okla., recreating the CIY experience.

Several Sand Springs musicians were hired to form a band for the event, including Church That Matters’ Jonathan Williams (guitar), former Clyde Boyd Middle School teacher Dylan Cahwee (drums), Leader editor Kirk McCracken (bass), and former Charles Page High School student Olivia Williams (vocals). Sapulpa High School teacher Tim Able played acoustic guitar and led worship.

FCC Youth Pastor Ben Keller was able to get the exact curriculum from CIY Move, using all of the materials the kids would have used at an actual CIY.

“Well, CIY Move is an incredible experience and incredibly important to our student ministry at FCC.” Keller said. “Move is often a high point in our year and a great event to build on for the upcoming school year. So, when Covid-19 shut down all live Move events, we knew our ministry would take a hit if we did nothing. Luckily, CIY was on the ball and partnered with hundreds of churches who participate in their Move conferences and released special curriculum and elements to make a custom Move experience possible. They gave us everything we needed, from worship set ideas all the way to session flows. With the content in place, all we had to do was bring it all together.”

Most churches attend CIY conference in other states, allowing the students to focus on the week rather than what is going on back home. Michigan, Tennessee, and Colorado are very popular sites for Oklahoma churches.

However, this summer, the students were less than an hour away from home, but the sponsors did everything they could to make it a great experience.

“A lot of people worked really hard to make this work, and I feel like God really honored that,” Keller said. “But, beyond the need for some kind of summer youth experience and CIY’s willingness to help, we just really love our students and wanted to give them something special when so much has been taken from them this year.”

​Kirk McCracken 918-581-8315

kirk.mccracken@sandspringsleader.com