Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

 Panelists Michael Polite, youth director of the South-Central Conference, and students Akiyah Maxwell (’23), Erin Harrell (’20), Danyel Brewer (’22), Jahni Monticquee (’21) and Leonardo Laroque (’21) share words of wisdom during the virtual Week of Prayer.

Pine Forge Academy Virtual Week of Prayer Gives Tools to Fight Anxiety

Story by Tracey Jackson

It was Thursday, March 12. Students had just completed their third quarter mid-term exams when the mandate from the State of Pennsylvania closed all Berks County schools. Suddenly Pine Forge Academy (PFA) was in full swing of implementing COVID-19 safety pre-cautions, and parents transported their children home from the boarding academy over the weekend.

The school calendar was adjusted, and the following week, originally slated to be the Spring Week of Prayer, became spring break. Teachers took that week to prepare for their uncertain, yet exciting journey into distance learning for the fourth quarter.

Fortunately, PFA students already used Google Classroom, and although things were different for academic learning, Principal H. Clifford Reynolds, III, felt it imperative that the students receive the planned spiritual blessing and encouragement so desperately needed during this time.

Dwayne Wilson, academy chaplain, and Pax Fordham (’20), the United Student Movement (USM) president, began planning an online Week of Prayer, featuring South Central Conference Youth Director Michael Polite, to be aired via Zoom and facilitated by the Allegheny East Conference (AEC) Media Center. The services were livestreamed through PFA, USM and AEC social media outlets.

Over the course of the week, Polite’s theme, “Under Pressure: How to Fight Against Anxiety,” struck a strong chord with the 144 students, as the series received 882 views. A panel of students facilitated a Q & A session after each message, and, on most nights, Anaeya Perry (’20), Brianna Hayden (’20) and Sh’Dai Forrester (’20) provided music.

Polite covered five topics:

1. Take a Breath—When feeling anxious, go back to the fundamental element and take an intentional deep breath (Genesis 2:7).

2. Wait, Let’s Pause—Sabbath means rest. God made it for mankind. Use it to refresh your soul (Mark 2:27).

3. Brain Freeze—Arrest the seven mental thieves: comparison, blaming, doomsday focusing, regret, fortune telling, mind reading and fairness
(2 Corinthians 10:5).

4. Never Say Should—Do what you want, not what you should! Grow the things you want in life with the empowering principle of reaping and sowing
(2 Corinthians 9:7).

5. Time-Boggling—Be anxious for nothing because God already knows the answers to all of the problems you will face in this life. He doesn’t see time as we do (Psalm 139:16).

USM Religious Vice President Kalin Griffin (’21) says, “Pastor Polite’s words did not fall onto rocky ground. They fell into my soul, and I use them in my daily life.” Danyel Brewer (’22) sums up the week when she remarks, “I enjoyed these sermons because they were very relatable to me.”

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