Area Christians drawn to youth retreat

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Selma Times-journal

More than 650 youth from across Southwest Alabama converged in Selma on Saturday to learn how to strengthen their religious beliefs and make the best choices in life.

The youth – some of whom traveled from as far way as Mobile – came to participate in the Alabama Baptist Convention Southwest District’s third annual Youth and Young Adults Retreat.

The youth spent the day at Selma University and Selma Middle CHAT Academy attending sessions on how to lead better Christian lives and plan for the future.

Presiding over it all was the Rev. Rodney Morton, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, who was chairman of this year’s retreat.

After being appointed as chairman by Dr. Charles A. Lett, president of the Southwest District Convention, Morton and others spent months volunteering their time to plan and organize the retreat.

As he looked across the packed auditorium of Selma University on Saturday, where the retreat’s closing ceremony was held, Morton said he could not have been more pleased with the result of all the hard work.

“It’s so great,” he said. “The attendance was good and the presenters were awesome. The kids seem to be enlightened and informed.”

The session instructors, who also volunteered their time, talked to the youth about such topics as Christian dating, self-esteem, conflict resolution, college freshman survival, and choosing the right college.

There was also a Bible Bowl Competition and Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot was the keynote speaker.

Morton said organizing the retreat was a unique experience for him, and he hoped the youth gained a deeper understanding of their faith.

“I want (the youth) to leave here more spiritually-empowered , having gained life skills and committed to a life pleasing to God,” he said.

Morton may have accomplished his goal.

One of those who attended the retreat, Roderick Harris, said he planned to make a few changes in his life after attending the retreat.

“My favorite session was the one on Christian dating,” he said. “That was the class that informed a lot of people. We learned the difference between hip-hop love and true love. I’ve got to change some stuff now.”

Lett, who attended the retreat, said Morton and the other volunteers did a good job hosting the retreat.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I hope the retreat will eventually be longer than one day.”