by Sara Fread
Last Sunday, we celebrated our last youth group of the school year with a (Make Your Own) Ice Cream Party! Although ending the year on Zoom wasn’t quite what I imagined at the start of the year, it was a joy to be together and celebrate our community! As I wrap up my first year with the youth program, I want to take a moment to express gratitude to the many hands that make youth ministry at First Church possible.
First, to the youth, you are truly incredible. You make me laugh, your creativity and ingenuity inspire me, and you are always teaching me something new. I rarely leave youth group without a smile on my face. Thank you for being authentically you in a complicated world. I’m already looking forward to youth group in the fall!
To the parents, thank you for raising such amazing young people! And thank you for entrusting the youth mentor team and me with your children. There is often a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes to get youth through the door of the church. Thank you for nudging your kids to try something new and encouraging them to be apart of this faith community!
To members of the First Church community as a whole – raising a young person takes a village. Thank you for being the village! Whether you’ve donated to a work camp fundraiser, chatted with one of the youth about school during the After Party, prayed for our youth, or have served on the FamChY committee to create meaningful, intergenerational experiences, your support and encouragement are so, so valuable.
Finally, thank you x100 to the dear youth ministry mentor team (Jane Arc, Rebecca Clayton, Emma Fujii, Hope Hilton, Carole Petiet, Drew Sperling, and Bob Stumpf)! It is a privilege to work with a group of such kind-hearted individuals who care so deeply about the wellbeing of our youth. Especially as we have had to adapt to new realities of the pandemic, your desire to continue to show up for the youth through this challenging time has been beautiful to witness. Thank you for the gifts of time and talent you share with this program!
At our last planning meeting, I invited the youth mentors to share ways that they’ve experienced God through their involvement with the youth program. I want to share some of these quotes with you as a testament to the power of being involved in youth ministry:
“I haven’t been involved in the program long, but it warms my heart!”
“I was blessed to witness a deep conversation one day about relationships and their emotions. It was a deep, mature conversation and that surprised me, but it showed me that they are growing and becoming mindful and aware. Youth group gave them the space to practice that, its a unique place where that can happen.”
In reference to an activity we did in youth group where youth had to retell Bible stories using memes: “It was great to watch them think more deeply about the story and work together to relate it to something closer to home.”
In reference to our Christmas Wreath and Annual Meeting Lunch fundraisers: “I loved how each of the youth had their own expertise. They did things I didn’t know how to do. I saw them come alive and be their whole selves.”
I’m looking forward to all of the ways we as a community can continue ministering to our youth during such a formative part of their life!