Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And They Grow

In many ways, the youTheology year is a pilgrimage. This was brought sharply into focus as I looked at Robert J. Brancatelli's Pilgrimage as Rite of Passage: A Guidebook for Youth Ministry. He has developed a curriculum that is built on the notion of Pilgrimage and includes a pilgrimage as a rite of passage for adolescents. It took me back to what I had written in a previous blog post, " youTheology not only has a pilgrimage component, but is itself a pilgrimage."

While Brancatelli writes for a Roman Catholic context, a sentence stuck out for me as he described Pilgrimage as Rite of Passage: "It is a process whereby youth can test their limits and discover their potential as individuals and members of the church community" (1998, 1). In other words, the course he has laid out allows young people to discover what they are able to do, and in some cases not able to do, within the life of the church as well as in their own right. I couldn't help but think that in many ways this is part of what happens in youTheology as we seek to develop faithful leaders for a diverse church and world. In meeting and interacting with other young Christian Methodists and their leaders, youTheologians discover hidden and/or latent gifts and calls, develop confidence as they plan and lead worship, serve, learn to theologise, learn more about the tradition, each other, and the various ways in which God calls people.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Monday, June 28, 2010

youTheology and My Growth in Confidence

I just graduated in May from Friends University with a BA in Religion and Philosophy. I will be attending Saint Paul School of Theology in the fall for my Masters of Divinity.

I am to start as an intern at Church of the Resurrection as an Intern in their kids department in July. I also work as a waitress and trainer at Olive Garden.

I am a candidate for ministry in the United Methodist church with the intention of being a senior pastor in a small town church. I also plan to be a chaplain in the Army.

I was in youTheology the 03-04 year.

youTheology meant a lot to me because it was my first time to meet other young people like myself who had a heart for ministry and saw themselves going in the direction of leadership in the church. It made me realize I wasn’t weird for wanting this for my life. It also came at a time when I was struggling with my own theology and it was a perfect place to ask those questions and dialog with my peers.

youTheology has impacted my life in that it gave me a healthy respect for the United Methodist church and our heritage. It gave me connections with church leaders who I now call my friends. I look back on it as a time when I gained confidence in who I was becoming and who I have become.

Currently the people in my community of young adults are active in church in many ways. The majority of our youth group sponsors come form the young adult group because these are people that the youth want to look up to and respond best to. We are close enough in age that we can still identify. Another way that we are active in the church is through coffee shop and emergent ministry. Our church built a coffee shop stemming from the ideas of people in our Sunday school class. It is a way for the church to be in a part of the community without forcing people who are uncomfortable in the church setting to have to go to the church. We hold an emergent service there every Sunday night, led mostly by young adults.

Currently I am in the process of getting married, and moving to Kansas City to go to Saint Paul. For the past year two years I have been preaching at the emergent service called NEXT at our coffee shop, helping with youth group, going to college, and waitressing.

When I’m not busy with life I love to read, drink coffee, walk with my dog Bella and my fiancĂ© Wesley, quilt, and cook.

I experience God everyday in my community when I am able to talk about my faith in ordinary conversation with my co-workers at Olive Garden who don’t necessarily know Christ. The little kids at our NEXT service show me Christ in their unconditional love. Furthermore our community shows me what it means to be Christ in the way they all take up the task of raising the children of our community. Our church is located downtown and God never ceases to amaze when an upper class businessman reaches out to a homeless man and invites him into our church. Every time one of the people in the prison ministry is released and we have BBQ for them I see the work of God. I am surrounded by a community of people who want to exemplify what it means to have the attitude of Christ inside and outside the walls of the church.

By Elizabeth Winger
youTheology alumna
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Friday, June 25, 2010

Perspectives from the Field: Summer in the Son

We’re well into summer. For some of our youth, it’s a time of going from one camp to another. Others are working full-time jobs saving up money for college or a car. Still others are living on the couch, watching TV and playing video games. Yet, the summer routine is different from the school year.

It’s easy for youth to let their faith journey take a vacation but it’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen. Instead of dropping everything, it’s time to say “Step up and go beyond yourself.” This could mean going on a Mission Trip or heading to Church Camp. Youth should visit new places, including other churches.

Sometimes, it’s important for us as Christians (of all ages) to make ourselves uncomfortable in order to strengthen our faith. After all, how do you know what you truly believe if you blindly follow what others say and never make it your own faith? Encourage your youth to speak to other Christians and discuss their beliefs, get out and help the people in your community.

However, the summer shouldn’t be all work and no play. Make sure the youth (and their leaders) are taking him to experience fellowship and to realize that Christians know how to have fun. Lifelong memories can be made while having fun with other Christians and that can also lead to life-changing discussions about who we are and what we believe.

So, this summer, be sure you and your youth have Fun in the Son!

by Mark Whitaker
Youth & Young Adult Director and Communications Coordinator
Avondale United Methodist Church in Kansas City MO (North of the River)
Advisory Board for youTheology / Marketing Coordinator
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It is a Choice

"If the world has shape, it is because we give it one." Thus wrote Lawrence A Hoffman in Sacred Places and the Pilgrimage of Life (1991, 7). It is a statement that makes us pause and think. Hoffman makes his case, showing how we give shape to what is in our environment based on who we are, what we do, and on what we're focused.

We have given a particular shape to our Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage in youTheology. We go to Harlem, New York; Philadelphia, PA; Baltimore, MD; and Washington DC. However, we have chosen those cities with care and intention. Likewise, we don't just go anywhere in these places. Rather, we go to sites and venues that have significance for the American Methodist heritage and tradition; places that Hoffman would call, "sites of historical sacrality" (1991, 9). These are primarily historic churches where we see and hear the rich history and learn about how God has been active in the lives of God's people bringing redemption and restoration. Thus, we are challenged to live surrendered to God.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Monday, June 21, 2010

youTheology and My Relgious Growth

My name is Winn Haynes. I was in the youTheology Class of 2006. Today, I am a rising senior at Hendrix College in Arkansas, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies: Bioinformatics. This summer, I am working at Seattle Children's Research Institute doing bioinformatics research into mass spectrometry driven proteomics as part of a summer internship.

As you can probably guess from the above, I plan to go to graduate school in biomedical and health informatics and pursue a career researching in the field. I hope to be able to focus my research on curing Type I Diabetes.

I feel a very strong calling to my research and believe that it is where I am meant to be. I also try to remain active within my local faith community.

was a wonderful program where I was able to experience religious growth and meet some truly amazing people. That year in youTheology helped to clarify my religious understanding. I continue to feel strong ties to the church as a result.

I am actively involved in the campus ministries at Hendrix College. I attend and participate in the weekly chapel services as well as the special services. Also, I am involved in the United Methodist Youth Fellowship program at Hendrix which has monthly meetings, two yearly retreats, and weekly attendance at several religious activities.

Between work, school studies, and church activities, I enjoy cooking, running, backpacking, and reading.

By Winn Haynes
youTheology Alumnus
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pew Internet guide to teens, young adults, mobile phones and social media

A comprehensive analysis of how teens and young adults use mobile phones and social media that shows how accurate our perceptions of such usage is.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Teens and Mobile Phones from Pew Internet
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Perspectives from the Field: Summer Priorities as Parents

Summer time seems to be the hardest time to keep the youth active in church. I have noticed in the last couple of months that our church has been involving the youth a lot more. They are going to a church camp and a logos camp in Colorado for the summer. Since all these things cost money, the youth have been having a ton a fundraisers. A lot of it comes back to the parents and what they make a priority in their lives to set an example.

Even if the family is on vacation or taking a break from church during the summer, it doesn’t mean that having God in their lives has to stop. If out of town, have a scavenger hunt to find a church to try out and making sure to say a prayer at mealtime are just a couple of examples.

Also when summer is over and a new school year starts, that could be a time to have a new start at church and the involvement of the whole family. Maybe participate in a new Sunday School class, join a small group, or get involved in a mission project.

by Lori Watson
Pleasant Hill UMC, Pleasant Hill, MO
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Making It Real

One of the things that happens with the youTheology Pilgrimage, is that the history becomes more real as youTheologians visit the sites, see the artifacts, and hear the stories. Although we would have covered some of this before in sessions at Saint Paul School of Theology, somehow, being in the context, in those buildings and locations where much of the history unfolded brings a different perspective that increases awareness and learning. At the end of the first day, Lindsey commented, "I learned much more about AMEZ and CME culture." I believe this is one of the reasons Thomas Landy of Holy Cross could say of the pilgrimage in Ignatius' footsteps in the Fall 2004 Holy Cross Magazine: "A pilgrimage is one of the best and most intensive ways to achieve that formation, that exposure to Jesuit spirituality" (Murphy 2004, 34). We certainly see our students much more aware and appreciative of as well as owning more of the rich Methodist heritage through which they serve God.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Not Over

youTheology's Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage 2010 officially concluded on Saturday, June 12, 2010. However, it's not over. The learning about "Personal and Social Holiness in the Church, Community, and our Lives," "Live, Liberty, and the Pursuit of God,' Human Trafficking; the sights, sounds, and smells of the various places we visited; the lessons about the Methodist history; the hospitality we encountered: all these will remain with us, guiding, influencing, and even helping to shape our futures. Stories were shared, both by those we visited and among ourselves. These were stories of faith and hope, of struggle and failure, and of courage. A youTheologian shared how she saved the life of her friend when she visited this friend's home and found her with slit wrists. The youTheologian stopped the flow of blood, revived the friend, and called the ambulance. She told this story in a very matter-of-face tone. Yet, she saved a life that night and in that action challenges us all to do something where we are.

Our journey continues as we share stories from this Pilgrimage and as we move forward with God's courage, faith, and commitment. God is calling us all to love God and neighbor. God uses activities such as the Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage to strengthen us to do so more and more. You may not have been on the Pilgrimage, but God is calling. Specifically, how is God calling you to love God and neighbor?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Friday, June 11, 2010

Perspectives From the Field: Jesus Needed in the Summer?

School is out and a lot of Youth Groups are now on summer hiatus. Our Youth Leaders have worked hard since the 1st week in September of last year. The question lingers in the air: “Do we just wait until the next September to teach our kids about our Lord and Savior?” Yes, many volunteers who work with our youth on a weekly basis report. But the truth is that we should never stop teaching our youth about the love and blessing of God.

Here is my way of always speaking about God’s grace and love whenever I am in contact with our youth. I am currently coaching a basketball team for about 40 young men in Emporia, Kansas. Their ages range from 8-19 years. Our first day of basketball practice is the day after our last day of Youth Group. Some of my ball players are from my youth group. At the end of each practice, we circle up and say a prayer. On our first day of practice, with 47 kids present, I told them how I was blessed and how much God loved each one of them. I also told them that I loved them unconditionally, just like God did. It didn’t matter what they did, God will continue to love them, and so will I. Later that week one of the parents told me that her youngest son, who was only 4, was running around the house and said to her “Guess what Mommy? Coach Earl loves me, and so does God.” This 4 year-old child came to the next practice and asked to say the prayer when we next circled up. I told him, “Sure.” I almost cried on the spot.

I offer this example to show that spreading the word of God needs to be done year-round, including the summer. I do it with basketball. You can do it with anything that may interest the youth you serve. We serve a Great God!

by Earl Williams
Youth Director and Safe & Sacred Space Trainer
Grace United Methodist Church, Emporia, KS
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

God Made Us All Equal

Slavery: Loving God, Loving Neighbor from Claire Smith on Vimeo.

A youTheologian reflects while on Pilgrimage.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's Together

On a Christian pilgrimage, one is a member of a community of pilgrims in which we learn and teach others the intricate relationship that embraces us in being known by God in Christ. It is a jouurney onward with others, in friendship, in which we both belong and learn to live aright as we move toward something better and more beautiful (Webb-Mitchell 2003, 166).

This indicates that pilgrimage in the Christian faith is a communal, complex, educative activity of co-learners and co-teachers. The subject matter goes beyond the community, yet encompasses the community as participants discover the profundity of being apprehended by God in Christ Jesus. As comrades travelling together to a more splendid space, we are linked and become versed in right living.

I see much of this is youTheology's Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage. We belong to each other. We are learning from and challenging each other to exemplify the youTheology theme, "Loving God, Loving Neighbor." The more we travel together, the closer we grow, and the more we learn about the places we visit, each other, and what it means to live for God; a God who has already reached down and claimed us through Christ.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Monday, June 7, 2010

On Pilgrimage

It has happened. youTheology is on its Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage. We have completed our first leg in Harlem, NY, where we looked at "Personal and Social Holiness in the Church, Community, and our Lives." However, there is a sense in which this theme continues to underlie the Pilgrimage as we continue to deal with the question of how we live out our faith in the places to which God sends us, the places in which we find ourselves. How do live so that, like the cross, we are stretched up to God and out to the world? Currently, we are in Philadelphia, a place rich in history. We will visit other places and churches. It is a joy to share in the stories of these churches. Their locations are different but their stories intersect while maintaining their uniqueness. These are rich histories and we pilgrims are privileged to hear and see firsthand the unique opportunities presented in each setting. It is an exciting journey. Won'te you join us? Click here for more.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

Thursday, June 3, 2010

And So We Go

Tomorrow, youTheology begins its annual pilgrimage with its high school students. It is a Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage to the East Coast of the USA where we explore the roots of American Methodism. We'll begin in Harlem, New York, where we'll be hosted by Mother Zion, AMEZ. We'll also visit Salem UMC and Williams Institutional CME. From Harlem, we will travel to Philadelphia and visit St George's UMC and Mother Bethel AME. Next, we'll stop in Baltimore and go to Old Otterbein UMC and Lovely Lane UMC. At all these sites, we will be learning about the witness of the saints, past and present; their struggles and how they have and continue to overcome to the glory of God.

Our pilgrimage reminds us that God is on the move and that we need to be always listening to discern how God would have us follow. It requires trust in God and the people to whom God sends us and with whom we share. We leave Kansas City and go from the known to the unknown. Even for us who have done this pilgrimage before, it is new, full of the unexpected. It requires flexibility as things change and new opportunities are presented to us by our hosts and circumstances. Along the pilgrimage, there are both intentional and unintentional moments of awe. There are places which we visit that we know are magnificent because the architects and builders strove to replicate, in their own way, the magnificence of God. There are many stories that are awe-inspiring. But always, there are moments of awe and wonder that only God can create.

Invariably, we create space for the sacred as we pause for prayer knowing that God is already present; we simply seek to acknowledge this in a way that allows God to move more fully in our lives. In addition, we build intentional moments of teaching, discussion, and reflection . Thus, as Brett Webb-Mitchell rightly notes in Christly Gestures: Learning to be Members of the Body of Christ,, "As pilgrims, we live a in motion as Christ's body, constantly learning "while on the road" and confronting the way we live our lives in the light of how others live their lives" 2003, (168).
Loving God, Loving Neighbor