Observations and Insights on UMC’s School for Christian Youth Development

In May 2010, I visited seven annual conferences that conducted the annual School for Christian Youth Development. I visited the following annual conferences:

VisayasPhilippinesAnnual Conference
Northeast LuzonPhilippinesAnnual Conference
Northern PhilippinesAnnual Conference
NorthEast PhilippinesAnnual Conference
Central LuzonPhilippinesAnnual Conference
PangasinanPhilippinesAnnual Conference
NorthWest PhilippinesAnnual Conference

Although I did not personally go to the Mindanao Philippines Annual Conference, I got in touch with the SCYD Director to ask about their SCYD curriculum and subjects.

The School for Christian Youth Development is an annual project of the Board of Discipleship of the annual conferences. In several annual conferences, it is the Council on Youth Ministries that implements this program. It is a three-year school meant for the development of Methodist youth so that they would be equipped for ministry in their respective local churches, districts and annual conferences.

The SCYD usually runs for two weeks. In several conferences, it is implemented for three weeks. Still, others do it for only a week! The students for each year level goes through around 6-7 subjects in a year. After attending the school for three years, the SCYD graduates will then be recognized by their annual conference as official youth lay speakers. This school is more than just a camp. It is a formal school being run by the church with classroom instructions, field work and extra-curricular activities for young people.

A number of pastors and deaconesses from all over thePhilippineshave decided to become full-time church ministry as a result of their exposure and training in the SCYD. The SCYD, however, is mainly implemented by annual conferences in theBaguioand Davao Episcopal Areas. Only two of the conferences in the Manila Episcopal Area do implement this program.

The School for Christian Youth Development is a three-year program implemented by the Board of Discipleship of the Annual Conference. It is meant to equip young people for ministries in the church. It usually lasts for two weeks during the Summer (April or May).

Curriculum and subjects.

The subjects being offered in the SCYD vary from one conference to another. There are similarities and overlaps. Most of the time, the curriculum has been established in the past several years and most of the present SCYD Directors do not even remember the last time they changed the curriculum.

The subjects could be categorized under 1) Bible; 2) Worship and Liturgy; 3) Methodism; 4) Ministry; 5) Outreach. The following table shows the different subjects as offered by different annual conferences. Some of these overlap with other year levels.

Note: These categories are arbitrary and could be amended and/or changed. 

Subjects offered to First Year SCYD students


Worship and Liturgy




Introduction to the Bible Music Theory Methodist Heritage How to Lead Bible Studies Missionand Evangelism
The Old Testament Intro to Christian Worship History of Methodism Foundation of Christian Education Creative Evangelism
The Life and Teachings of Jesus Basic Christian Beliefs Youth Ministries
Principles of Preaching

Subjects offered to Second Year SCYD students


Worship and Liturgy




Introduction to the Old Testament; Pentateuch Hymnology; Hymnody UMC Articles of Religion Children’s Ministry Church and Society
The New Testament Worship, Liturgy and Art/Christian symbols Comparative Religion Youth Leadership Evangelism 2
Interpreting the Bible Church Polity and Structure Stewardship
Homiletics / Preaching Youth & Campus Ministry

Subjects offered to Third Year SCYD students


Worship and Liturgy




New Testament Praise and Worship Ministry Social Principles Administration of Christian Educ. Social issues and concerns
Art of Preaching Church Polity Youth Leadership Christian Ethics
The Gospels / Pauline Epistles Pastoral Care & Counseling
Leading Bible Studies Peer Counseling

 Skills Training. In addition to the subjects being offered, the SCYD also helps train young people in playing musical instruments, dance and other skills through the Interest Groups. Some of these groups include: Guitar, Piano, Tambourine, Choir, Interpretative Dance, Flute, Drums and sometimes, there are also livelihood skills training such as Silkscreen T-shirt printing, etc.

On-the-job-Training. The SCYD students also get deployed on Saturdays and Sundays to various local churches as part of their on-the-job training. On these two weekends, the SCYD students will teach Bible Studies to children, youth and sometimes even adults. Some of the more proficient students also get to preach to the congregation. 

Extra-Curricular Activities. During the SCYD, some of the evenings are dedicated to special activities such as the Talent’s Night, the Fun Night and in some conferences, the Middlers-Seniors Prom! The SCYD will not be complete without a trip to a swimming resort since it is done during the summertime.

Accommodation, Registration and Facilities 

If a nearby Methodist school or college is available, it becomes the venue of SCYD in the annual conference. If no such institution is available, however, local churches host the SCYD. If the venue is a school, the classes are held in classrooms with blackboards, armchairs and tables. Otherwise, the kindergarten classroom of a local church and the church sanctuary, itself, becomes the classrooms for the SCYD students.

Depending on the capability of the conference, students may stay on dormitories or good lodging places. In most cases, however, students sleep in the kindergarten classroom and the church sanctuary at night. Hence, for some conferences, the church and the kindergarten classroom functions as classrooms by day and sleeping quarters by night.

The registration fee for participants is P1,000 on the average. This summer, the lowest registration fee was P600 for two weeks and the highest was P2,000. Some annual conferences also provide financial support to the SCYD through the Conference Board of Discipleship budget. In most cases, though, the SCYD will just rely on the registration fees of the students who will enroll. The registration fee usually goes to food, lodging, honorarium for the teachers, materials they need for the school and other items.

The SCYD Director and personnel usually raise funds through solicitations (money and in-kinds such as rice and other food items) from the members of the church within the conference.

Participants, Teachers and Resource Materials.

The age of the participants range from 13 years old to 24 years old, although most of the SCYD students are still in high school (13-16) years old and a few college age (16-21 years old) students enroll. Still, it is becoming rare to find youth more than 22 enrolling in SCYD.

Each year level in SCYD has a mixed composition. A 13 year-old kid may sit side-by-side with a 20-year old college student in the same class if they are in their first year of joining the SCYD. This may create some issues for the teacher in terms of the teaching strategies and the discussion methods he or she will employ since the learning dynamics of a 13-year old vary with that of a 20-year old. This may be one of the issues that the organizers of SCYD will have to deal with.

The teachers of SCYD come from the ranks of pastors, deaconesses and lay persons with the expertise in the subject being offered by SCYD. Teachers will prepare their own syllabi and will have to look for their own materials for the subjects that they will teach. Probably, the only exception is the Northwest Philippines Annual Conference, which has a set of syllabi for each subject being offered by the SCYD. The teacher will then follow such syllabus and look for supplementary sources of materials and information for his or her subject.

Some teachers stay for the whole duration of the SCYD but some do not because of the busy schedules they have in their church appointments. Most teachers of SCYD also perform the tasks of SCYD staff persons, they take care of preparing the food of all the delegates, act as the guardians of the students and serve in whatever capacity the SCYD demands.

Some SCYD teachers have no difficulty looking for resource materials to use for their subjects. Yet, a lot of the teachers in most conferences are looking for ready-made material that they can use. This way, it becomes easier for them to teach without the burden of looking for materials by themselves. Such material could also help standardize the SCYD across the Philippines Central Conference. Another consideration for this is the busyness of pastors and deaconesses, hence, having a ready-made material will help them maximize their time and be more efficient in fulfilling their role in the SCYD and also in their local churches.

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