Friday, March 22, 2019

The Youth Can do it - Part 2

As promised in my last article, I want to share with you what goes on at the EYC meetings on Sundays at noon. The group, open to youth from age 12 through high school, is led and mentored by the EYC Youth Ministers: Maggie Mahloy, Nick Clark and Raven Cadena, and me, the Associate Rector for Children and Youth.

We start out with lunch, which is often provided by the great parents of the youth of EYC. After a prayer of thanksgiving for the food, we all sit and partake of the meal and participate in check-in, when each young person shares with the group any challenges or joys they have experienced in the previous week and what they are anticipating for the coming week. The youth also learn about youth events coming up at St. Andrew’s and in the Diocese of Southern Virginia, such as Happening at Chanco, for example.

After lunch, we have the formation part of the afternoon, where a lesson is presented by any of the EYC Youth Ministers or by me. Lessons are mostly based on the liturgical calendar, and on subjects and issues the youth themselves want to talk about, like stress and bullying. At other times EYC does Bible study together and prayer in the church. Throughout the year, EYC does special events: the Christmas Party, preparing the plastic eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt or making cookies and placemats for the Kairos Prison Ministry.

During our two hours together, we have fun games interlaced throughout, and most of these games are very active and very entertaining. When the weather is good, we go outside to play soccer or another ball game.

At our EYC meetings, we keep things moving and flexible, letting them know that God loves and cares for them. There is often a lot of laughter, and each time we meet it is clear to me that the youth care about each other and enjoy being together.  At the end of each meeting, the youth and Youth Ministers “circle-up” and I bless each of them with the sign of the cross on his or her forehead, asking God to protect them, and reminding them of God’s love and presence.

As you can see, each EYC meeting is full, and as I wrote in my last article, we only have a limited time together, and formation and fellowship must happen for the youth to support them in their lives as Christians and help them meet the challenges of being a young person in the world.  There is not a lot of time to dedicate to other projects.  Please know that when I say “No” to your suggestion of a project for our youth to take on, it is because I am carefully guarding the precious hours they have here for formation and spiritual growth.

I am very grateful for the parish’s support of our young people, and to me, the presence of children and youth are active signs of the presence of God.

The Rev. Lorna H. Williams
Associate for Children and Youth

Report from the Congregational Development Team

The Congregational Development Team has worked diligently this past year to meet our objectives to invite, welcome, and connect newcomers to the St. Andrew’s church community. It is a joy for all of us to see new people join with us in worship and friendship.

The team is always looking for new ways to make these things happen. During the past year we have had a number of projects with these objectives in mind. One of these was called Each One Invite One where our congregation was encouraged to invite an acquaintance of theirs to a service during the month of April. Periodically, we had what we called a Coffee Connect to meet with the most recent newcomers. This is a meet and greet social after a church service where these persons are welcomed by the team and clergy. We also make materials available to help them connect to the workings of the church. Later in the year we had an evening social for all the newcomers as well.  They met with the team, clergy, staff and vestry.  At St. Andrew’s it puts a smile on our face to see the young ones come to church. To ensure parents know their children are welcome, we prepare Activity Bags that are given out each Sunday by our greeters who, by the way, are also an important part of our welcome. Also, during this year we worked with the office staff to formalize the path for newcomers to become a formal part of our parish if they so desire.

Since the formation of the Congregational Development Team we have seen over 30 new families become a part of our church family. This is exciting to us and we want to continue this momentum. In the coming year, we anticipate doing the things that have proven to work as well as look for innovative ways to increase that success. There is no question that the overall success to date is due to and will in the future depend upon a congregation that has bought into the importance of this activity. So, we encourage our congregation to invite friends to our church, and to intentionally seek out newcomers at our services, and to welcome them and include them in our community.

We welcome anyone who would like to become a part of this team. If you are interested, please contact our team leader, Betty Delk (757-621-7974), the vestry liaison, Jay Lambiotte (757-291-2446), or the church office.

Jay Lambiotte

Monday, March 18, 2019

The youth can do it

Throughout my 20 years in ministry with teenagers, I have been approached by individuals and groups of Episcopalians with different kinds of projects in their minds or hands, saying to me, “The youth can do it.”  The reality is, however, that most often, the youth cannot do it. They cannot take on all the projects adults in the parish want them to do or think they should do. Let me tell you why.

There is nothing wrong with many of the projects or activities suggested by adults. The main issue is the actual amount of time the youth spend at the church. These days, teenagers are very over-scheduled. Besides school, they have extra-curricular activities like sports and dance. They have a social life too, which is very important for young people’s development.

Church is part of the lives of many youth, and we are happy to have them in our midst, attending youth group here at St. Andrew’s. For most of them, church and youth group are the only places they get any kind of Christian formation outside of the home. Here they learn about the movement of God in their lives and what it means to be a Christian.

The time the youth spend at church each week is very limited. Therefore I carefully plan each EYC meeting to ensure that we have time for lessons about our faith in Christ and discussions about issues youth face today, like bullying and stress, and opportunities for our young people to strengthen their social connections with each other.  Attendance at EYC is greatly affected by school calendars and also by the parish calendar itself. Consequently church time with our teenagers is very limited, and each EYC meeting is only 2 hours long and full. That’s why there is not a lot of time to dedicate to other projects.

Please know that when I say “no” to your suggestion of a project for our youth to take on, it is because I am carefully guarding the precious hours they have here for formation and spiritual growth.

Next time I will share with you what goes on during EYC meetings.

The Rev. Lorna Williams

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Worship Liaison Report

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. - Colossians 3:23-24

On any given Sunday at 8 AM, I have the privilege and joy to serve as a Lay Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Acolyte, and/or on an Altar Guild Team or Coffee Team.  And now I am St. Andrew’s Vestry liaison for Worship – the same area that brings me such joy!

Worship ministries at St. Andrew’s have a lot to offer with amazing leadership for each: Altar/Flower Guilds (BoBo Smith); Chalicers, Lectors, Memorial Garden (Bill Wilds); Acolytes (yours truly); Ushers (Dick Barnwell); Sound Techs (Rachel Roby); Choir (Brad Norris); Liturgical Dancers (Pat Woodbury).  These ministry leaders along with their volunteers work to make sure our weekly services run smoothly, seamlessly.  In liaising for my first Vestry Worship report, though, there were two common themes expressed: 1) continue to hone skills with the goal to do as perfect a job as possible, and 2) the NEED for more volunteers.

Case in point:  We are blessed to have our young acolytes.  I schedule the acolytes for the 10:30 AM and special services.  Adult parishioners serve as acolytes at 8 AM because we no longer have enough young people for both services.  When next year’s seniors graduate from high school, with no new acolytes, we will have only seven to fill four positions each Sunday every month.

How can you help make sure these ministries will continue?  How are you involved with Worship at St. Andrew’s?  How are you using your God-given talents, or the willingness to learn something new, in service to the Almighty?

Tonia Graves

Communications Liaison Report

This is an exciting time in the ministry of communications!  Digital tools give us the ability to share the Gospel not only with our neighbors down the street, but with the whole world.  Websites, social networks, video, web conferencing, and other digital media enable us to extend our ministries in new ways.  How can we best make use of them?

St. Andrew’s Communications Team manages our website, Facebook, Instagram, and the Main Street lobby TV.  Our goal is to do more than just share information – we want to provide spiritual content too.  The website includes a page of prayer and devotion resources and a page for current outreach projects in need of volunteers.  Our Instagram features daily prayer.  Last November on Election Day, prayer was offered every hour on the hour, all day long, on Facebook.  An Advent Calendar on Facebook and Instagram offered daily prayers and prompts for activities.  During Lent we’ll be doing online Stations of the Cross several times on both Facebook and Instagram.  There are so many more opportunities, and that’s our challenge!

Everyone can be a part of this ministry in some way.  Follow St. Andrew’s on Facebook and Instagram, like and comment on our posts.  Share what’s going on at St. Andrew’s and what your church means to you on your own Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  If you’re excited or intrigued by the ministry possibilities of social networks, photography, video, or any other media, join the Communications Team!  Contact Ann Turner, or 407-1254. 

Ann Turner