Friendship and fun: Annual basketball tourney helps youth build fellowship

By Jessica Brodie

LEXINGTON—Thirty-nine teams from 14 churches headed to Mount Horeb United Methodist Church last month for the 43rd annual South Carolina Methodist Youth Program’s Youth Basketball Tournament.

“It all seemed to go really well and smooth,” said Chris Lynch, congregational specialist who serves with South Carolina Ministries with Young People.

The high school and middle school teams spent Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, playing games at churches and schools all over the Midlands, including Epworth Children’s Home, Columbia; Lexington High School, Lexington; Mount Horeb UMC, Lexington; North Trenholm Baptist Church, Columbia; Shady Grove UMC, Irmo; Shandon UMC, Columbia; Trenholm Road UMC, Columbia; and Union UMC, Irmo.

The semifinals and consolation games were held Saturday evening, and the final games were held Sunday, Jan. 12, at Lexington High School.

Mount Horeb served as the host church, and on Sunday morning, South Carolina Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston preached to players and their families during worship there.

The tournament is designed to offer youth from across South Carolina the opportunity to use basketball as a tool for outreach and fellowship.

“The hope is twofold—one, it gives churches a chance to reach out to the youth, and two it builds fellowship among churches,” Lynch said. “Other youth in churches don’t know each other, or don’t know each other well, and this helps them build connection. Outside of the competitive piece of it, they are still building community, and the connections are beyond cool to watch.”

Mary Abbott, SCMYP Basketball Design Team chair and director of children’s and youth ministries at Lyttleton Street UMC, Camden, said this year’s tournament was a huge success.

Some teams enjoy a more recreational approach to play, while others are rather competitive,” Abbott said. “Either way, we heard positive comments, and a good time was had by all.”

Abbott said the Sunday morning worship is always a very special time for those involved in the tournament, reminding everyone of the true reason they hold this tournament each year: to come together as Christians to play basketball for God’s glory and to honor Him in the weekend’s activities.

“A lot of basketball players attend Revolution later in January, camp at Asbury Hills in the summer and participate in Salkehatchie camps, realizing and seeing firsthand what a connectional church looks like as they see each other at these different events,” Abbott said.

The Mitch Milford Trophy is the most coveted award given each year at the Basketball Tournament. It is given to a team or church that exemplifies exceptional sportsmanship and Christ-likeness during pool play at the Tournament. This year’s Milford Award Grand Champions were the Union UMC Junior Girls team.

Senior Boys Champions were the Buncombe Street 2 team. Senior Girls Champions were the Buncombe Street team. Junior Boys Champions were the Buncombe Street 1 team. Junior Girls Champions were the Lyttleton Street 1 team.

Lynch said SCMYP Basketball Design Team will begin planning later this month for the 2021 tournament; dates will be announced soon. Go to for information.

Abbott said the design team is always interested in growth in regards to the number of teams that register each year.

Any churches who have interested youth should email [email protected].

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