2013-10-25 / Chaplain's News

The new Fort Gordon Youth Ministry

By Lt. Col. (Ret.) Charles Schuman M. Div
Protestant youth coordinator

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth: on the contrary, set the believers an example in your speech, behavior, love, trust and purity.” -1 Timothy 4:12

Did you know that the Lord has risen up a new Protestant Youth Ministry at Fort Gordon?

This has been an answered prayer for many of us. Through the commitment and hard work of the installation chaplain and staff, many hurdles have been overcome and the new Youth Program is now open for “fun, fellowship, food, and faith building.”

The youth program is open to all middle and high school youth of the Fort Gordon community and their friends. The group has started meeting every Sunday 5 - 7 p.m. at the Religious Support Office, located at 29601 Barnes Ave.

Military kids can face special challenges in addition to the normal stress of being a teenager. One of the goals is to be a Godly influence on youth in order to encourage spiritual resiliency for them and help make and keep them whole, morally, and ethically, in a safe non-denominational Christian environment.

God has already raised up a great group of experienced certified youth volunteer leaders to include Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Wienrich, 551st Signal Battalion chaplain. There are many exciting and fun activities planned for youth such as trips, service projects, leadership development, and outreach projects.

Participants don’t have to be an attendee of a Fort Gordon chapel service to try the program and become part of the team. Parents are encouraged to come along and hang out Sunday evenings as well.

“The middle school and high school experience can be very stressful and self-absorbing,” which is why Rev. Bob Hooper Rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church stated reasons about the importance of youth ministry. “School life is full of stress to succeed academically, athletically and socially. The constant concerns and focus on college preparation and admissions and number of “likes” on Instagram, Twitter and Vine seem to consume the time, energy and spirit of our teens. Home life is not much easier, if not harder all together. So many parents are constantly obsessing on grades and the latest athletic, musical or theatrical performance, as if their own personal and social worth rests on their children’s personal and public success. Now don’t get me wrong, academic success and expanding one’s life through sports, music and the arts, is very important.

“The problem is how we do it. We seem to forget that teenagers are still kids struggling to discover what it means to be independent, self-reliant and young adults.

“It is not easy to be a teenager in 2013.

“This is why churches should do youth ministry. It provides a place for teens to gather and explore with others what it means to be a part of something bigger than themselves and a place to put all that creative energy to work and fun. Youth group frequently brings together kids who would not necessarily, because of the social confines of their lives, even know each other, nevertheless, and get to know each other well. There is nothing like a new perspective to enlighten and enliven our lives. While teen life, like the lives of so many adults, is full of judgment and competition, church life should never be about these things. We are all equal in God’s eyes-a lesson so many need to hear and learn. While the adults in most teens’ lives are there to support and help, teachers and parents by the very nature of their roles frequently are the largest contributors to the stress that these young people experience. Once again, church life should never be about this. Youth ministry provides the opportunity for the extended community from the youngest to the oldest, to work together, support each other, and help others.”

With opportunities such as mission trips, the youth … come to know the world as a bigger place than the one they inhabit – a place where they can make a difference. This is a lesson that can be more important and powerful than any one lesson taught in a classroom.

Two variables are the key to make this a success, leadership and parents. Without good, faithful and thoughtful leadership, the best of intentions will almost always go awry. Without the enthusiastic committed encouragement of parents, it is the rare child that will get involved. Good youth ministry feeds teens with prayer, good work, good fun, and a lot of pizza.”

Give the Fort Gordon Protestant Youth of the Chapel a try? Find us on Facebook at FGPYOC.

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