One of the most important things a parent can do for their teens is engage them as regular, active members of their church’s youth program. After over twenty years of experience and study of youth ministry I am convinced that parents who engage their children in faithful worship attendance, formation classes, and outreach ministry, provide their teens with a strong foundation for navigating the teen years, college, and adult lives.
Most of the 80+ youth who have “graduated” from the youth program remain in touch in some way. All have become successful young adults. The youth leaders and I believe an essential part of their success comes from their relationships with God and J2A friends; from knowing that St. Peter’s and their J2A leaders continue to pray for and remain available to them; and from the lessons of our curriculum. Those lessons include knowing and understanding God, how prayer helps in times of ease and stress, the importance of serving others, how to love and care for themselves without being self-centered, and how to see their own sexuality as a gift from God and to cherish that gift and use it wisely.
I recently received a text from one of our college sophomores, Callan Ghareeb. With her permission, I share her text with you: “I recently Googled myself and discovered a recording of my sermon from Youth Sunday. Listening to it made me tear up a bit because I still love you and Erin (McGillicuddy, her best friend, met through Episcopal Outreach Camp) so much and I’m so thankful for all the opportunities being a member of St. Peter’s youth group gave me. You, Harris (Holt), Jim (DiMartino) and Elsie (Erneston) truly shaped me to become who I am today and I could not be more grateful for you all.” Callan is studying to become a human rights lawyer. She asserts that her experiences in the youth group cemented her desire to work with marginalized people. St. Peter’s has many such stories of our former young people practicing radical love and effecting good change for the world. Please email me to hear stories of other youth, and/or to discuss involving your teen today!
Lyn Holt, Director of Youth Formation