Every year I have to write an entry for my church’s annual report on the State of the Youth Ministry.
Thought I’d share with you all. Think of it as my Christmas letter.
The Youth Ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown exists to
EXPOSE students to God’s love, to CONNECT them to each other, to help them GROW in their faith,
so they can HONOR God with the their lives as they SHARE in His mission to change the world.
2013 was another great year! At the beginning of 2014 I will have served here 4 years and have seen a whole high school group graduate! The youth ministry continues to be a strong ministry with students invested and well-connected. This year we have seen a continued increase in new students joining our groups. Students continue to invite friends. We have many new faces this year. Our college ministry also continues to grow. We sent out college care packages in the spring and fall to over 40 students. The response to these packages continues to be strong. And we hope that this will continue to keep our students away at college connected to the congregation.
As a leader, I continue to look for ways to continue to grow. In 2011, I began a Certificate in Youth and Theology at Princeton Seminary. I have enjoyed my involvement at Princeton Seminary and will continue to attend their forums on youth ministry and network with other Presbyterian Youth Directors.
This year I also took on the big task of being Triennium Registrar for our Presbytery. I spent the year connecting with and contact churches in our presbytery and inviting their youth to Triennium at Purdue University. July 15-21, 28 students and 4 adults travelled on a charter bus together for a great week with thousands of Presbyterian all over the country and world. We had the opportunity to hear great speakers and be in small groups with other Presbyterian youth.
Weekly programs are an important component of the ministry. Students come each week to hang out with one another, with adult leaders, and to learn more about being a follower of Christ. This year we made some changes to our schedule, moving Koinonia to Wednesday nights. Ekklesia (middle school) continues to meet Wednesdays. Each group has a normal attendance of around 20 -25 students. Having both groups on Wednesday nights allows us to have a big youth meal each week! These meals are currently provided by local restaurants, with the cost supported by families. The evening includes fun community building games in the gym and ends with learning more about being a follower of Christ. The Confirmation Class graduated 14 new members, and they enjoyed a great year discovering more about their Christian faith.
Students greatly anticipate our summer trips and winter retreats. These trips are great momentum builders in the ministry. It is a great time for bonding as a ministry and growing spiritually through service and great teaching. Over the summer, the middle school went to Harrisburg, PA and the high school went to Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. It was our first summer doing an intergenerational mission trip, with adults, youth, and college students. We had a great week serving together and interacting across generations. During the school year, middle and high school students went on winter retreats to Lake Champion in New York. Serving others regularly is also an important component in the youth ministry. Some ways that students served others are Souper Bowl of Caring, the Community Soup Kitchen, helping with the bazaar and Operation Love, and YSOP in New York City.
We also have many great fellowship activities planned throughout the year. Some of these events include lock-ins, laser tag, mini-golfing, scavenger hunts, game nights, pool parties, roller-skating, visiting Alstede Farms, and our yearly Christmas parties. These activities provide opportunities for students to have fun together, and students often bring their friends to these fun events.
Students were an important part of the Capital Campaign this year. Led by student leaders Paige Boyadjis and Grace Godfrey, we spent part of the fall talking about finances and stewardship. This culminated with a commitment made by 30 students to give about $2,500 in the course of the next year. I was so encouraged by the faith and commitment of our youth.
Finally a huge thank you to all of the adults who invest in the youth and youth ministry in our congregation. Thank you to the Youth Committee and Committee Chair Marcia Heiden for all of their support. Thank you to the advisors who make a commitment to invest in teenagers each and every week. Thank you to the adults who give up an evening to go to a youth event or a weekend to go on a youth retreat. Thank you to advisors who give up a week in the summer to serve with teenagers on our summer mission projects. And thank you to church leaders who take time out to mentor our confirmands. This ministry could not happen without the investment of each and every one of these adults. I am blessed to serve with them and to be a part of the lives of the youth of our church.
2013 was a great year, and I look forward to 2014!
Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry