Easter traditions vary from family to family and culture to culture. For many Pleasanton Church of Christ members, Easter weekend means the culmination of something they’ve worked for all year: the annual Leadership Training for Christ convention at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.
From April 7-9, 18 students from ninth to tenth grade, along with their coaches and families, spent three joyful days together traveling, competing and cheering. This year’s theme, “The Promise,” was inspired by Genesis 28:15.
On Good Friday, the group went out and dropped off artwork, a children’s book, and an album that afternoon to be judged. Some competed with puppets, Bible reading, and a two-hour Bible bowl on the same night.
Other events followed on Saturday, such as choir, theatre, signing for the deaf, lead vocals and speeches. Christians from across Texas worshiped together in a grand ballroom Sunday morning.
In total, the young people of Pleasanton participated in 18 different events in the challenge, submission, convention and virtual categories. Although hugely disappointing when it was canceled in 2020, the situation sparked a search for new ways to shake things up. With restrictions still in place in Texas, those hiding behind the scenes got to work finding ways to hold the convention again last year.
LTC already had a few “submission” event options available, such as the essay and short submitted this year. But in 2021, for the first time, each of the 30 events could be completed or performed in the home congregation, recorded and submitted online. Since the necessary capabilities to do so were already in place for the 2021 convention, the organization decided to continue offering this option in 2022 and beyond.
Those who participated in person this year were Joshua Mercer, Matthew Mercer, Alina Miller, Lily Cates, Emilee Kunkel, Tristan Kunkel, Abby Schjang, Alexzandria Molina, Elijah Marquez, Mikenna Maxwell, Izaiah Molina, Hope Ramirez, Elizabeth Molina, Tanner Wiechring , Laynie Bryan, Kiley Wiechring, RJ Marquez and Mikayla Theis.
“Working with these students as they prepare for LTC is so rewarding because I can see them mature in their leadership skills and in their faith,” said Nathan Flynt, who coached the in-person and virtual choirs. “Adult attendees and sponsors are truly blessed to have this kind of opportunity to develop leaders within our fellowship. The fun we have preparing for and attending the convention is truly remarkable.
Nine of the 27 congregation participants took advantage of the virtual option, competing in choir, art and Bible reading. Virtual attendees included Sophia Velasquez, Braeden Brown, Jillian Martinez, Presley Brown, Rebecca Martinez, Greyson Mehrmann, Reese Royal, Isabel Velasquez, and Logan Brown. Also deserves recognition, eighth-grade student Pearson Royal, who practiced with the virtual choir and was instrumental in selecting the songs, but was unavailable on the day of the recording.
“The virtual choir was a great way for those in our youth group who are unable to attend in person with LTC to sing our praises to God and the opportunity to participate in an event to show our love for God through singing,” sophomore high school student Mehrmann said. “Also, practicing for our virtual choir shows young children in the church how important it is to sing our praises to God.”
An LTC showcase held at the Pleasanton Church of Christ Fellowship Hall on Sunday, April 10 gave participants in-person experience of practicing their performances in front of an audience. The performances of some virtual participants were also judged that evening by members of the congregation.
Challenge events, most of which run year-round, included daily devotions, leadership, outreach, service and bulletin boards.
Rather than competing for spots, each child or team is awarded a gold, silver, bronze or honorable mention based on a set of criteria. The idea is to challenge children to work towards a goal while finding ways to gain biblical knowledge, share their faith, show love to others, and develop their communication and leadership skills. .
“I always tell the kids that we come to LTC to share our faith and our love for Jesus,” puppet coach Patty Marquez said. “It’s a very contagious feeling!”
Training for 2023 LTC has already started. Six days after returning from the 2022 convention, the students were in the building doing service work, preparing for a congregational youth summit on April 23. More challenge events will start soon.
“LTC is about learning to serve God,” said fourth-grader Alina Miller. “The more time we spend serving others and being together, like at LTC, the better we like it.”
For more information on North Texas Leadership Training for Christ, visit www.NTLTC. org.
Pleasanton Church of Christ invites all ages to join for Sunday morning Bible classes at 9:30 a.m., worship at 10:30 a.m. and evening worship at 6 p.m. They also have Bible studies on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. The church meets at 1003 N. Main St. in Pleasanton and offers many ministry opportunities and an active youth program. Call 830-281-5511 or visit PleasantonChurchOfChrist.com for more information.