DuBois Girl Represents United Methodist Church at Global Event

DuBOIS, Pa. (EYT) – When McKenna Keltz told her friends in DuBois that she was going to South Africa, she a similar response each time: “Are you going on a mission trip?” In fact, Keltz was one of 300 people from 40 countries attending the United Methodist Church’s Global Young People’s Convocation in Johannesburg.

“Everyone thinks that if you’re going to Africa, you’re going on a mission trip,” Keltz said. “It’s hard to explain. I call it ‘a global gathering.’”

Keltz was a delegate of the North Eastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church in the US. She was asked to go to a meeting to see if she would join the Division of Ministry of Young People. Out of five candidates, she was chosen to serve a four-year term.

McKenna Keltz with a lion cub in South Africa (Photo provided by McKenna Keltz).

“The division plans the Global Young People’s Convocation, and we were offered the chance to go,” she said. “We didn’t have to, but a group of us wanted to go to help out.”

Helping out was what she did. She was part of the event, assisting the speakers and the bands who attended the five-day event that the United Methodist Church describes as being about “conversation, worship, and fellowship.”

“It’s our event, we should help anyways,” Keltz said. “We also have a section of legislation, and we kind of ran that for the delegates to make sure it went smoothly.”

The legislation involved discussion on how the church should handle the “hot topics” going on in the world. These proposals are sent to the General Conference in 2019. Keltz said that she hopes the pastors and bishops will take what the youth of the church have to say seriously.

“Nothing is set in stone,” she said. “They’ll talk about it at the general conference. There are some pieces they can take. They usually modify some of what we say into something the can use. Everyone always says the youth are the future, and sometimes adults are good at listening and sometimes they think we’re too immature. This is a chance for us to gather together and get our voices heard.”

Keltz was impressed with Johannesburg as a city. Despite the differences – like driving on the wrong side of the road — Keltz said that the city was like any other big city.

“Oh my gosh, it’s so beautiful,” she said. “It’s a city, so you can go from super-rich people with nice houses and cars and walk a little bit and find a lot of poverty. The people there are sweet, but there’s a lot of crime, so it’s like any city again.”

The city nature of Johannesburg surprised some people in America. She said that Americans usually think of Africa as having villages and extreme poverty. However, Johannesburg was like any big city she had seen, complete with nice people and people who do not like tourists.

“People talk to each other there more than you see in America,” she added as a way of differentiation from American cities. “We just walk and ignore each other. There were places along the road where people would pull off and just talk.”

But the city was not the only thing that made an impact on the 16-year-old. The board she worked with at the convocation was far more diverse than she expected.

“That’s one thing that always amazes me is the diversity of everyone who comes,” she said. “There were over 300 people who came from all over the world. We had a bunch from Africa, Europe, the US, and the Philippines. We also had people from the Middle East. Everyone was down to talk to you and see what you believe.”

Keltz said that she is already an outgoing person but knowing people from all over the world will help her as she plans for life after high school.

“I love helping people,” she said. “When I finish high school, I’m looking to go to college and become a physician’s assistant. I’ve met so many people across the world, so that will help me be a better PA.”

In addition, travel will always be a part of her life.

“I’m down to travel whenever and wherever,” she said. “I actually have a friend named Katerina in Germany. She wants me to visit, and I want to go to Europe to meet the people involved in young people ministry.”

The chance to go to South Africa and take part in the Global Young People’s Convocation also showed Keltz that differences can be overcome when working toward a common goal.

“There are a lot of opinions from the different regions of the world,” she said. “Some people have different ways that they were raised. Even though we have different opinions, we can all agree on one thing we believe in and can come to an agreement.”

Keltz with a cheetah cub. (Photo provided by McKenna Keltz).

Africa from the air. (Photo provided by McKenna Keltz).

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