2014-03-28 / Chaplain's News

A new Fort Gordon Youth Ministry

By Lt. Col. (Retired) Charles Schuman
Fort Gordon 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 here at Fort Gordon?

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

First the particulars: Our Youth program is open to all middle and high school youth of the Fort Gordon community, as well as their friends. We have started meeting every Sunday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Barnes Avenue Friendship Chapel on Barnes Avenue.

We understand that military children can face special challenges in addition to the normal stress of being a teenager. One of our goals is to be - along with your parents - a Godly influence on our youth in order to encourage spiritual resiliency for them, and help make and keep them whole, morally and ethically, in a safe nondenominational Christian environment.

God has already raised up a great group of experienced certified youth volunteer leaders including our sponsoring Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Weinrich, chaplain of the 551st Signal Battalion. We have many exciting and fun activities planned for our youth that include trips, service projects, leadership development, and outreach projects.

You do not have to be an attender of one of our Fort Gordon chapels (although we hope you give us a try) for your children to be a part of the team. As parents of these great kids you are encouraged to come along and hang out with us on Sunday evenings as well.

As to why ministry to our youth is so important, here is what the Rev. Bob Hooper Rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church has to say:

“The middle school and high school experience can be very stressful and selfabsorbing,” said Hooper. “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.”

Hooper went on to explain.

“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 2014. This is why churches should do youth ministry. For starters, when done well, 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, let alone, 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.”

He added, “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,” said Hooper.

“Most importantly, youth ministry, when done well, is a place of intentionality, a place where God is invited in to our lives, our worries, our loves, our sorrows and joys,” he said.

Now, to make this a success, it has been my experience that the two most important variables have nothing to do with the children themselves. These two variables are 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. They hunger for a place to be fed spiritually, morally, and creatively, whether they can give voice to that or not. Good youth ministry feeds our teens with prayer, good work, good fun and usually a lot of pizza.

Would you please consider giving the new Fort Gordon Protestant Youth of the Chapel a try? You can even find us on Facebook at FGPYOC. Hope to see you Sunday.

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