It’s amazing to look back at the past eight years and realize all that has happened with our children and youth programs. I remember one of my first Sundays as the church school director, we made prayer flags with the children. I made the brilliant decision to use markers to decorate fabric flags on the brand new granite bench in the garden. Luckily, all these years later, the color that bled through onto the bench has finally faded enough that no one can see any of the evidence!
That first year was a whirlwind. Meeting new people, figuring out how to do my job, organizing closets and classrooms, trying to learn all the kids’ names, finding a curriculum that fit the theology of the UCC. It was quite the adventure. Over the next couple of years, I was growing into the job. With the help of many of you, we were able to lift our flailing program – because of the revolving directors that came before me – into a vibrant one, full of energy and Spirit, with the most incredible parents who volunteered their time preparing meaningful lessons for the good of our wonderful kids. I have loved seeing the kids (and the teachers) realize how big God’s love is for them.
Five years ago, I was given the opportunity to become the youth minister. I had a tough act to follow. Under Rev. Judy’s leadership was a successful program that I knew I couldn’t replicate exactly. I figured out a model that seemed best for the kids given my specific strengths and capacities. Over these past 5 years, I have had the opportunity to be a small (but I hope important!) part of so many of these wonderful youth’s lives. We have cried together, laughed together, gotten frustrated with each other, prayed and played together, but most importantly found a way to love each other in the process of coming to know God better. We have had countless overnights, mission trips, field trips, and team building activities that brought us closer together as a group and closer to God.
These last 8 years have been a wonderful experience for me. I have traveled deeper down the path of my spiritual journey and continued to be amazed at how deep God’s love is for me. I have had the opportunity to work alongside many incredible adults who continue to make a huge difference in the children and youth’s lives. It is so rewarding to see an adult, completely intimidated by children or teens, grow into becoming a role model for these young people. It’s fantastic to see them learn from each other and be comfortable asking those hard questions about our faith. It is these relationships that the children and youth will remember their whole lives. It’s those moments an adult, other than their parents, showed them that they are loved, and that someone sincerely cares about them.
Now that you have made it this far into my letter, I am sure you can guess where this is going…. After praying about this for a while, I have made the difficult decision that I will be leaving at the end of this program year, my last day being June 14th. . As many of you know, Kerri and I are expecting our second child in July and I will be staying at home with our little people. I know these years will fly by and I want to have the opportunity to enjoy every moment possible. I knew I always wanted children, but I never realized how much I would love being a dad more than anything in the world.
You will be missed. I thank you for the gift of these 8 years together. I have grown close to so many of you and learned so much about who I am because of spending time with you. I will miss most of all the children and youth. You all will go on to do great things in this world. Know that. Live that. Go with God to make it happen.
So what comes next for the church? Well, our Leadership Team, Children and Youth Faith Formation Ministry, and the Ministry Team are beginning to work on that. Rest assured that all of you will be involved and kept in the loop of the process. Our current programs are strong and growing, with many of our wonderful adult volunteers agreeing to come back next year to keep the program moving forward in a positive way. I will also be working hard over the next few months to make sure the church is in good shape for my departure.
I look forward to saying personal goodbyes to many of you in the coming months. I will keep you in prayer during this time of transition as you open to new possibilities and would request your prayers for me and my family as well.