Inspired young adults convene ‘The Kickback’

Jan 3, 2020 | by Brad Rowland

Inspired young adults convene ‘The Kickback'

By: Brad Rowland

In mid-January, young adults from across the South will gather in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for a weekend of mission, fellowship and worship.

"The Kickback: It's In Your Hands" was created organically and technically outside The Salvation Army's purview. However, the idea and execution arose from a small group of young adult leaders from the Florida Division, with the goal of bringing people together with purpose.

These words are the backdrop and central focus of The Kickback:

"Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don't compare yourself with others. We must carry our own load." — Galatians 6:4-5 (CEV)

"A few young adults from Florida had the idea to invite young adults to Gatlinburg for an event that isn't technically under the Army's umbrella,"aid Jovanie Smith, territorial young adult and mission deployment coordinator. "They've tried to be intentional in passing along the message that, as young adults, we can take things into our own hands and not wait for others to give us permission to use the gifts and ideas that we've been instilled with," Smith said. "There is no frustration or resentment involved, but there is a great opportunity to gather together, fellowship and worship."

The Kickback's origination was completely organic, beginning with a petition sent to Sabrina Kemper, Florida's divisional creative arts director and one of the event's organizers. Kemper talked with members of the event's eventual leadership team – Emaniel Brifil, Cherika Gregory, Tonya Stickney and Smith – and they agreed something needed to be done.

"From there, the Holy Spirit just brought everything together effortlessly," Kemper said. "Emaniel came up with the name ‘The Kickback,' we agreed on the tagline of ‘It's In Your Hands,' and we were fueled by what is now our theme verse in Galatians 6."

"I believe moving forward to action in order to meet a need is in our DNA as Salvationists," Kemper said. "Christians are a doing people. That said, this isn't a special event that took special people to put it on. The same spirit that moved William Booth to start The Salvation Army, or that brought together our brothers and sisters in Acts Chapter 2, is the same spirit at work here."

The weekend's activities, Jan. 17-19, will offer time for worship, service projects and group discussions on such topics as spiritual warfare, mental health, financial responsibility and authentic discipleship.

Attendance is open to anyone, with or without a previous Salvation Army relationship. The gathering will take place at Elk Springs Resort in Gatlinburg, a location chosen in part due to its centralized geography in the Southern Territory. Registration is $20 and is available at

Many in the young adult community are eagerly looking forward to coming together and doing so without reliance on anything but a worshipful spirit.

"While community is invaluable, there is a danger in relying on others, organizations, officers or those in designated leadership roles to run forward with the passions or ideas that God has planted in you," Kemper said. "It's an easy thing to do in the Army since, as young people, we've been sort of spoiled with programs, camps, youth councils, territorial events and a million other things being done and made easily available to us. We greatly appreciate that, and now we are happy to take up the mantle."

"In the end, the Kickback is a gathering of encouragement to remind us that our faith, our ministry, our spiritual journey is really in our hands."

Recent Stories

Related Content: Breaking NewsSouthern Spirit Online

Get Involved

A gift to The Salvation Army helps someone in your community.

Give Now



Do Good in your community

Find Worship

Join us throughout the week for worship, fellowship, Bible study, meals, community service and fun.