The Church of God International Executive Committee and Youth and Discipleship have announced the inaugural International Junior Talent Competition and Awards Festival to be staged at the upcoming 77th International General Assembly (GA18) in Orlando, Florida.
“This launch emphasizes our efforts to identify, reach, train, and empower the Jeremiah Generation,” stated David Blair, director of Youth and Discipleship. “The gifts and talents of children will be displayed and celebrated during this significant global gathering of the denomination. Participants will be invited to participate in a special service held as a part of the Assembly. It is my hope and prayer to have each state, region, and nation represented in this first International Junior Talent presentation.”
According to Blair, International Junior Talent seeks to highlight and celebrate the gifts and talents of Church of God children (ages 6-12). Many states and regions are already conducting state Junior Talent competitions to encourage children to develop their talents and skills for ministry in the local church and community. Junior Talent closely models its elder sibling, Teen Talent (ages 13-19), in scope and categories.
Blair and the staff in Youth and Discipleship have been in touch with state/regional/national youth directors who have the ability to promote this ministry to every local church and facilitate a form of competition, perhaps in conjunction with summer youth camps or another program.
Junior Talent is not a new initiative with the Church of God, just that it will be staged in Orlando between July 31 and August 3. Exact details regarding dates, venues, and other logistics will be announced closer to the event.
“Now, this younger generation will have the opportunity to shine on the international stage,” Blair said. “We are not anticipating any major changes being necessary in the Junior Talent manual, only minor adjustments for clarification and age definitions.”
While Junior Talent competitions have already begun on the state and regional levels, registration for the International Competition will open on May 1, 2018.
In a called International Youth and Discipleship board meeting last month, a measure was passed to widen the age range for Junior Talent competition from 7–12 to 6–12 years of age to include participants from states/regions who currently allow six-year-old children to compete. Realizing that some states only offer Junior Talent every other year and may not be conducting a competition this year, for this year only, the age range for participants has been widened to include all those whose age qualified them to participate last year.
“If participants were eligible in 2017, then they are deemed eligible to participate in 2018 as well,” Blair explained. “This will allow states/regions who conducted a Junior Talent in 2017, but do not plan to conduct competition in 2018, to send their 2017 winners.” Blair went on to explain that as an attempt to create a level playing field across the age span, states/regions who are conducting a 2018 Junior Talent may allow children who were eligible within the 2017 age qualification to participate this year. This will increase the age range for this first International competition only. Directors have the option to allow older children (those who were 12 years old for at least one day between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018) to participate this year.
Individuals and groups will compete in four major emphases: Music, Drama, Art, and Bible. Each will feature multiple categories similar to Teen Talent. There will also be a special International Junior Talent Awards Festival held at the end of the competition to recognize winners and runner-ups in each category as well as those with a superior rating and honorable mention.
Blair concluded, “We expect some bumps along the road as we cut a new path for juniors to be celebrated and recognized, and I would like to appreciate in advance the pastors, parents, and leaders for their patience with us as we enter this new frontier.”
The official Junior Talent manual is available at cogyouth.org. To contact the Youth and Discipleship Department, email [email protected] or call (423) 478-7225.