Fact Check

Viral 'NAYC21' Facebook Post About Christian Event Lacked Context

The post led commenters to believe that a large gathering of Christians in St. Louis was ignored by the news media in 2021.

Published Aug 28, 2021

Image Via Facebook
A photograph shows the North American Youth Congress gathering in 2021, a Christian event that was largely ignored by the news media.

A viral Facebook post from 2019 claimed that a Christian gathering known as the North American Youth Congress (NAYC) was not widely covered by the news media. This was true. However, on Aug. 22, 2021, the text from 2019 was copied and pasted by a user in a new post. It also went viral, which led commenters to believe that the events described took place in 2021. In reality, the in-person portion of the event was canceled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Aug. 22, 2021, a Facebook user posted a photograph that purportedly showed a large Christian gathering in an arena in 2021. The text, which included the hashtag #NAYC21, claimed that it wasn't widely covered by the news media. It mentioned that the North American Youth Congress (NAYC) event purportedly only made it into local reports in the St. Louis, Missouri, area, where the picture was captured.

According to the NAYC Facebook page, it is "a semi-annual youth conference sponsored by the United Pentecostal Church International."

Six hours after the post was made, the user added "#repost" to the end of the text. The truth of the matter is that it was copied and pasted from the WKRN Jerry Barlar Facebook page, where it was originally posted on Aug. 5, 2019.

The picture did indeed show a NAYC gathering in St. Louis, Missouri. However, it was captured in 2019, not 2021. And in 2021, the in-person portion of the gathering was canceled due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

While the repost may have been somewhat misleading, the sentiments expressed in the original text appeared to be true. We only found reporting from Fox News, CBN, Texarkana Gazette, St. Louis-based TV station Fox 2, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. We were unable to locate any other news media coverage of NAYC in 2019 in any other location around the world.

The viral post claimed that 37,000 attendees came to the event and filled up thousands of buckets with relief supplies. This was also true, as Fox 2 reported:

“We’re going to be filling 2,000 buckets for disaster recovery, which in times of disaster, will be distributed and put together at this location,” said Superintendent Missouri Division UPCI Bryan Parkey. “It’s called ‘Serve Day’ and will take place tomorrow. Reach Out America, which President Trump has praised for their disaster relief effort and donated $100,000 to, is teaming up with Feed the Children to put together the buckets of supplies.”

The group of 37,000 wants to leave behind something good. These buckets worth $75 each are something tangible.

In sum, it's true that the NAYC was pictured in viral Facebook posts. However, the event did not have an in-person gathering in 2021. The original text of the posts was from 2019.

The full text of the viral posts is provided below:

This didn’t make front page, or any for that matter. Other than the local St. Louis news.

Last week nearly 37,000 young people took over the city of St. Louis Missouri. No, you probably didn’t hear about it in the news, but it happened.

Hundreds of teenagers and young adults from around middle Tennessee joined others from North America and other countries in St. Louis for what is known as North American Youth Congress. Cameras weren’t at the airport or parking lots where vans, busses, and cars loaded up and headed out.

There weren’t interviews about how excited they were or what their plans were while they were there. It all happened very quietly.

This event has been happening for 40 years. It is a three-day event with day classes and night services. NAYC, as they like to call it, has had to start renting out football stadiums because arenas can’t hold the crowds any longer. They were inside the St. Louis Dome where the Rams used to play. These young people spent their last few days of summer vacation not at the beach but in church services. This event was so powerful that when young people would leave the services, and go to restaurants just to eat, the waiters and waitresses were coming to them telling them we don’t know what you brought in with you but we feel like we need it. With tears in their eyes, they were asking the young people about what they had and how to get it.

Workers in the stadium were lifting their hands and being filled with the Holy Ghost. To say it was life-changing is an understatement.

Then Friday they spent hours filling 1500-2000, 5-gallon buckets with supplies and toiletries for disaster relief. The city had not seen anything like what was happening over these 3 days. At the last service, when everyone was tired and worn out, they still gave. Not only in their worship, but from their wallets and purses. The leaders presented the need to help missionaries. They asked the kids if they would give. And did they ever! Nearly $1,093,000.oo was raised by these kids and youth.

While the bad dominates most of our news nowadays, I just felt you might want to see there is still hope for this generation and future world changers! #NAYC

It did make the local news in St. Louis.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.