BETHANY, W.Va. – The longest-running Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Christian Youth Fellowship conference returned to Bethany College this week after a pandemic-induced hiatus.

CYF Conference 1Twenty-five youth – mostly high school students – and five adults arrived at Bethany on Sunday for a week of fun and fellowship.

On Tuesday, the students undertook a service project at the Campbell Mansion and Disciples of Christ Historical Society near campus. Campbell Mansion is registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Groups were assigned tasks including fence repair, weeding, sweeping, and archiving.

Alexander Campbell, one of the principal founders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), founded Bethany College in 1840 and was its first president. Since then, Bethany has fostered its longstanding ties with the denomination.

Students also shared some of the reasons they were grateful that the CYF conference returned this year. Learning more about their faith, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, and a sense of a return to normalcy topped their lists.

CYF Conference ServiceThroughout the week, CYF participants also took part in such activities as painting, swimming, yoga, and tours of the Campbell Mansion.

CYF leader the Rev. Kenneth Hardway, minister of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Wheeling, said the conference for the West Virginia region dates back about 100 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of all camps at Bethany last summer, but nine are scheduled to return this year, including the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference football and band camps next week. The college hosts groups ranging in size from 20 to more than 200.

Photos from the CYF Conference.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.