We have so much going on at St. Georges in the lives of our young(er) parish members. So if I may, let me take a few moments to share a quick update and some stories.
Our weekly university student dinners, [email protected], is on break while the students work their summer jobs and co-ops here in Victoria and further afield. Duncan Chalmers, the fearless leader of Sundays @5, will be spending the next seven months doing work with refugees on the Thailand/Myanmar border. Our appreciation goes to Duncan for all his work this year with our university ministry. Prayer for him and his experience are most welcome! I am excited to welcome Jamie Millar into the role of [email protected] leader starting in September and look forward to seeing where she takes this ministry. As previously announced we are looking for individual people, a pair of friends, or even a group (such as the men of the church—hint hint) who are interested in making meals for hungry students starting in September. Please let me know if you are interested!
Our Sunday School continues to thrive under the leadership of Ella, a nursing student and an all-around amazing woman with a big heart for kids. Her creativity in teaching the kids what it means to love God and their neighbour continues to amaze me. As an example, on St. George’s day Ella used a metaphor to teach kids the legend of St. George. The dragon represented all the “bad stuff” in our world, and the kids offered ideas such as: poverty, refugees, Donald Trump, and elephant poaching. St. George (made out of popsicle sticks) represented our love and he defeated the dragon or the “bad things.” My prayer for the kids in our church is that they will always feel loved & welcomed at St. George’s and that this love will go into our world and make a difference. Over the summer, Ella has been taking a well-deserved break, and we’ve been blessed to have many volunteers step forward to help run the program.
Coming up in the next few months, our Youth Ministry will be seeing some changes. Liz Walker, one of our faithful youth leaders, will be ending her time with the youth. As I have met with Liz over the past year, brainstorming new ideas and supporting her leadership, I have been inspired by her vision to see the church not only make space for youth, but make them a priority in the life of the parish. Her organizational skills and passion have made a huge difference and she will be very missed. But don’t fear! We are not losing Liz and will continue to see her around in other roles within St. Georges.
Starting in September, our Youth Group will continue to be led by the other youth leader, Clay Gustavsen. When I meet with Clay our discussions often revolve around big and bold ideas about how to invite teens into the church. I am very thankful for Clay’s continued enthusiasm for the youth and look forward to seeing what direction this next year will take.
One of my goals when I began this role was to ‘draw the circle wide’ and build a support team with other churches, faith traditions, and people of all backgrounds to build a firm foundation of love for the next generation. These past few months I have realized we are not alone in our call to reach out to youth and show them God’s love in a way that is relevant to them. I have had the opportunity to meet with various youth leaders both in Victoria and on the mainland. In my quest to build these relationships, we created an opportunity to partner with St. Luke’s Cedar Hill and Lutheran Church of the Cross to serve kids in Victoria who are looking for a fun and safe place to learn about faith. I believe that our participation in The Amazing Journey Summer camp at Lutheran Church of the Cross, held from July 10th to 14th, is a great start to this circle!
Over 50 kids participated in this week-long day camp which transported the campers back to Ancient Rome and the early church. Campers came to sing songs, do crafts, play games, and also visit with Paul (who was under house arrest) and the early followers of Jesus (in their “secret” meeting place) through interactive drama. I had the privilege along with our own Rev’d Canon Peter Parker to act as one of the early followers of Jesus and also open and close each day of the camp. Part of my role was to teach the kids the theme of each day, which included: “God’s love is a gift,” “God’s love changes us,” “God’s love is always with us,” “God’s love saves us,” and “God’s love is worth sharing.” On the right side of the page you’ll find some fun photos taken over the week of the camp.
There are so many ways I see God’s love when helping with a program like this. I see it in the way volunteers work together, from planning the week to running the activities to clean up at the end of the week—it amazes me how much can be done with God’s help when we cooperate together. I see God’s love in the kids who may have little or no exposure to church but are welcomed in to a place where they are free to ask questions and feel safe. I see God’s love in the teenagers who volunteer during the week, (of which we had four from St. George’s) as they form new friendships, gain confidence in themselves through learning to lead, and practice selflessness in putting their campers needs before their own. Lastly, I see it in churches working together not only across parishes but across denominations. I was reminded that we are not alone in our passion to see youth get excited about God’s love and the church. When we work together as a larger church family, we are not only able to make a greater impact but we are able to demonstrate to the larger community what can be done when we choose to support each other, agree more than disagree, and work towards a common goal…all with the help of a few stickers of course!
As you can see, I could write all day about the people who love and support the young parish members in this congregation and that includes all of you! For every smile you give, every question you ask, and every cookie you pass to a kid at coffee—it makes a difference, thank you!
For more information about family life at St. Georges please check out our [email protected] Facebook page, take a look at the new youth bulletin board in the hall, ask to be added to the family life email list, or you are always welcome to email me at [email protected].