By Jilleen Collins, Youth Minister
The first half of the 2019-2020 school year has been full of learning, fun, and planning for the St. Paul’s Youth Group. Here’s a closer look at what we’ve been up to.
In September, we tie-dyed shirts and talked about future outreach projects. In October, we talked about the meaning of outreach and why we, as Christians, are called to serve others. We also talked about what makes a successful outreach mission, event, or project. The youth recognize the following as the most important things to think about:
Who do we want to help?
How long or often do you want to provide this service?
What impact would you like to see?
In other words, what will this service look like when it is done?
What skills will you need?
What resources will you need?
Who else can get involved?
Using this model, the youth have come up with three clever, fun, and valuable projects that will be announced soon. We are super excited about these projects! Stay tuned for more information.
In November, we talked about All Souls and All Saints Day. We also discussed the things that we are grateful for and how it is important to be thankful for what we have.
Here is a Bible passage we discussed: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
In addition to our class meetings, one of our youth group members, Emily, attended the annual Diocesan Convention. Emily represented the Diocesan Youth Council (DYC) and held voting rights, a special privilege granted to only a small portion of DYC members. By using her right to vote, she passionately represented the opinions of the youth from St. Paul’s and the youth all around Massachusetts.
The youth kicked off December by listening to Bishop Gates’ sermon during his visit on December 8th. Because there weren't enough service bulletins, the youth participated in the service without them. I took the picture below because I was amazed at how these brilliant young people were able to recite every prayer perfectly because they had them memorized.
Also on December 8th, the youth helped the rest of the parish tie fleece blankets for "Project Warmth" during coffee hour. It was left to the youth to decide where St. Paul’s donated the blankets, and they chose to bring them to the organization Healing Abuse Working for Change (HAWC). And as we approached Christmas, some of the youth built a gingerbread house that resembled St. Paul’s, and a gingerbread-man that was almost identical to Father Rob!
The youth had two classes during January. During the first class we discussed a portion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech about being a servant. Dr. King does an amazing job telling us that God created us all in his image and, with that, we are all equally called to create a world where our brothers and sisters feel safe and loved. Take a look at the short video our youth group watched. After listening to a small excerpt of his famous speech, the youth discussed:
As we see in the Scripture passages we read and in the video, we are all called and commanded to be servants. What does this mean for us today?
MLK had a dream that one day all people in the United States would be treated equally. He helped move this nation forward in making his dream come true. However, are racism and inequality completely gone today? What are examples in your schools, our city, our country, or in the world where racism still occurs or where people are not being treated equally?
The second class of January was spent discussing bullying. Instead of telling them why bullying is bad I introduced them to the legal definitions of bullying and cyberbullying and talked about where we might be seeing these kinds of behaviors in our day-to-day life. We also looked at some scripture to really tie in the lesson. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10) and “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
Between now and the beginning of March, the youth will be focusing on three major themes and concepts:
Who is Jesus? Where do I see Him in my life? What does He look like to me?
Identity: self-esteem and self-image. Who am I? What makes me special? Who do I want to be? How can I share my talents? How can I express who I am? How can God help?
Making goals: What is a S.MA.R.T. goal? What are my long-term and short-term goals? How can my youth group hold me accountable for these goals? How can scripture help me with my goals?
Being a teenager in 2020 comes with a lot of stress, anxiety, and expectations that make navigating through their life journey difficult. The goal of the St. Paul’s Youth Group is to create a safe place for sharing, learning, growth, and exploration for all teens. If you or someone you know is interested in this wonderful group, feel free to email me for more information.
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.