This week about 3,100 Adventist young people from around the world are meeting in a conference center in Pretoria, South Africa, following a week of community service projects around the country. On Sabbath, organizers are hoping to bring in many more people to a 30,000-seat stadium in the township of Atteridgeville outside Pretoria.
The GC's last youth congress was held in Taiwan in 2008.
Like a GC session, the atmosphere at the conference is very international, with some attendees wearing their native dress and speaking many different languages. (Headphones are available for simultaneous translation.) The conference opened with a parade of nations, and in a very long program, participants watched videos, listened to music (by musicians including the Soweto Gospel Choir) and were greeted by various dignitaries - including the mayor of Tshwane (Pretoria) and the chair of South Africa's Premier Soccer League, who grew up Adventist (and professes to still lead a tobacco- and alcohol-free life).
But what makes the conference even more international is the many young people who, though not attending, are watching a live feed of the proceedings (http://new.livestream.com/impact2013/events/2191798) and commenting in real-time. They are from French Guiana, Guatemala, Russia, Brazil, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Botswana, among other places.
Conference organizers are clearly trying to meet the young people on their level by using social media and liberally employing multimedia during the programs. But dramatic exhortations from the pulpit, inspirational music and alter calls are still very much on the agenda here.
This video clip shows about 35 minutes of the opening ceremony. Listen to the excellent a capella singing group Reality 7 (in the style of Ladysmith Black Mambazo) at minute 9:00. To get more of a flavor of the conference, and see what the young people are up to, watch more footage of the conference, or live coverage of the Big Sabbath on July 13, at www.impactgcyouth.org.