Close to 800 Black youth from across the nation gathered recently at University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) to change their own lives, the campus and community for good.  The Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community held their 63rd Annual Seminar at the UMES campus.  Adopting the theme “#Agents of Justice,” the 14-24-year-olds came to Maryland’s Eastern Shore not only to learn about social justice but also to do it.

Lott Carey International Youth Leader Vernon Gordon speaks to youth during mission talent presentations.

“Justice is not something that is done and accomplished. Justice is something we have to continually work to achieve and secure…to preserve and promote,” said David Emmanuel Goatley, executive director of Lott-Carey International.

“For us, justice is a sense that all have enough, none should have too little, none should have too much. God desires for us to have a world household where all are adequately provided for. Justice is not going to happen out of nowhere. We must be in pursuit of a world where all people are treated equitably. That’s a life style we want to encourage and nurture so our young people can see new possibilities for themselves,” Goatley added.   

Youth volunteered at HALO, a Princess Anne homeless shelter and a Somerset County human trafficking organization, assisted with projects on campus and prepared food-aid packages for distribution in Central America.  Pastor Vernon Gordon, who serves on the International Youth Development Team of Lott-Carey International and is the organizing pastor of Life Church in Richmond, Va., said the seminar reinforces the connection between justice and service in the African-American community.  

“This gathering empowers youth through missional activity during the week and a curriculum that challenges our youth to think about outreach in their own communities and abroad.  We have a history of being those who looked beyond our own needs and met the needs of others,” Gordon said.

Lott Carey Youth wear 3-D glasses during talent presentation Eyes of My Heart.

The seminar meets annually for a week after the close of the school-year at a different HBCU. Conference organizers said the annual partnership with HBCU’s helps expose young people to the role and value of historically Black institutions while they also learn to connect with service and missions as a way of life.  

The Lott Carey Mission movement was founded in 1897 and is now a global, multicultural ecumenical Christian Mission movement.     

“The younger children can’t wait to turn 14 so they can come to the Lott Carey Youth Seminar,” said Cheryl Murray, of First Glen Haven Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Va.  Murray is one of more than 100 volunteer counselors who come back each year to mentor participants during seminar week.  She added of the youth attendees, “They love this place.”

Sydney Lowe, 14, from the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., and Trinite Whitaker, 14, of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., said they were both transformed by the experience.

“At first, I came to get points for my high school honor society,” said Lowe, “but I after I started volunteering, I saw that there was so more involved.  I began to value it.”

Whitaker added, “We went to HALO, a homeless shelter and thrift store and helped organize clothes for the homeless. I learned that it’s good for young people to step in and help.”