“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Deuteronomy 11: 18-19
“Mentor the Young” is one of five ministry “imperatives” that Bishop Ed Little prays for us to do. It is part of his vision for what the Diocese of Northern Indiana “will bequeath to future generations of Christians.” The five imperatives provide our focus for this year’s monthly editions of By Word and Example.
For this month of September, we highlight the fifth imperative, Mentor the Young. As our “Word” lesson, we use Bishop Little’s own words from his 2013 diocesan address. These are words to pray over in our congregations, to consider in our Bible studies and any gathering where we intentionally seek how we should best respond to God’s abundance.
Our “Example” article is “Don’t be Lost…Be Found” - a first-hand account of this summer’s ministry at Camp New Happenings. Our correspondent is Rev. Dan Layden, rector at St. Alban’s in Fort Wayne, and a participant in this special camp for children who have parents who are incarcerated.
May you be blessed by the Word and Example offered here!
Imperative #5 – Mentor the Young
Bishop Ed Little, introduced by Linda Buskirk
“Our young people are our future,” we often say. Bishop Ed Little’s vision for what the Diocese of Northern Indiana “will bequeath to future generations of Christians” includes intentional ministry to “mentor the young.” For insight into why the Bishop considers this one of five imperatives of ministry, here are excerpts from his 2013 Diocesan Address:
This is a Kingdom issue and a conversion issue. Father Matt Marino, Canon for Youth and Young Adults in the Diocese of Arizona, recently wrote an extensive article in The Living Church entitled, “Renewing the Youth in Youth Ministry.” Among other things, he says:
“The years from birth to 19 comprise 25 percent of our life expectancy. According to researchers, 77 percent of those who choose to follow Christ do so before turning 21. Here is a question to ask your church treasurer: What percentage of our budget is dedicated to the 25 percent of our lives in which four-fifths of us make decisions to follow Christ? Is yours anywhere near 25 percent?”
He goes on to issue a warning:
“It’s possible to invest in the wrong sort of youth ministry, but what’s worse is not caring enough about young people to invest in them at all. …Many students tell us that they want to “know God” and leave for churches that are unapologetic in their Christian message and willing to give answers rather than endlessly “embracing questions.” ...We lost students when we defunded leadership for them, organized them around social and political goals, and did not give them a gospel to orient their lives around and articulate to others.”
Now the good news is that in the Diocese of Northern Indiana, ministry to young people – children, youth, and college students – is profoundly Christ-centered. We have not succumbed to the temptations that Fr. Matt warns about.
…Many of our churches, not surprisingly, are too small to be able to mount effective programs for children and youth. Many of our churches, indeed, don’t have any children and youth. They are filled with people my age, and the only time a child appears in church is when the child comes to visit a grandparent. That’s reality.
… Small churches need to think beyond the traditional models for children’s and youth ministry. Some possibilities:
· Intergenerational Sunday School – mingling children of different ages as well as adults in a single learning environment
· Joining forces with neighboring Episcopal churches, to form children’s and youth ministries that generate the enthusiasm that draw young people together. This pattern is already being tried in the Calumet Episcopal Ministry Partnership, and particularly in areas where parishes are relatively close to one another, such experiments are both practical and possible.
· Joining forces with other Christian churches, to form ecumenical children’s and youth ministries. In Plymouth, for example, five neighboring churches have formed the Adams Street Kids, a strong and successful youth program for many years. It would be particularly appropriate for us to partner with our friends in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to form joint youth groups.
…We are a small diocese with limited resources. But we can do great things for Jesus, not least with the young people whom the Lord places in our care. We share the Gospel with children and youth, in the end, not because we’re concerned about institutional survival – but because that ministry is at the very heart of God’s plan for us. Moses outlined that plan more than a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, in his final charge to the people of Israel:
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
Camp New Happenings 2014: “Don’t be Lost…Be Found!”
The Reverend Daniel K. Layden
Rector, Saint Alban's Episcopal Church
The Diocese of Northern Indiana hosted the seventh annual Camp New Happenings this summer. This special camp is for children, ages 8 to 12, who have a parent who has been incarcerated. These children may otherwise be forgotten and not get a chance to experience camp.
For most of these campers, many from cities such as South Bend, Gary, and Fort Wayne, Camp New Happenings is the biggest taste of the great outdoors they will experience. They love to swim in the lake. They play hours of four-square, and the Ga-Ga pit is a particular favorite place to be. Afternoons are filled with games such as kickball and Frisbee-football. In the evening, there is fun around the campfire. Each night brings a special snack surprise -- moonpies and kettle-corn are big hits. Munching is accompanied by singing fun, learning Christian songs.
Camp is not all fun and games. The children learn to respectfully live together. Many great life lessons are taught by the dedicated staff. Knowing that there is someone who deeply cares about them and how they act is extremely impacting.
This year, we were fortunate to be with three other camps at Camp Mack. Drama, arts, and sailing camps were simultaneously hosting young people. One evening we were invited to a special dinner with the other camps: Christmas Dinner in July! The children of all four camps got to know people they otherwise might never have met.
That dinner was such a hit that we invited all the other camps to our special Thanksgiving dinner later in the week. Camp has a way of bringing together people from many different backgrounds. Further, we used this time as an opportunity to share our gift of songs. Pastor Mose Carter spoke from the heart, and many were touched as we sang “Sanctuary.”
Another hit was the morning times for Arts & Crafts and Christian Education. The kids always love to make vision boards, collages, and many other special craft items. In Christian Education the theme was, “Lost and Found.” We examined a different parable each day. The first day was focused on the parable of the lost sheep. The second day we looked at the parable of the sower. Wednesday we studied the parable of the Good Samaritan. On Thursday we explored the parable of the Prodigal Son also known as the parable of the forgiving Father. Finally, on Friday we looked at the parable of the talents.
It was an amazing week where we talked about what it meant to be lost. We discussed what it meant to be on rocky ground. We also talked about what it meant to be found and to be on good soil. Each child was encouraged to know that God seeks each of us out and finds each of us. Finally everyone was reminded that we have special talents given to us by God. Overall, we learned about our Awesome God!
Camp New Happenings is a special camp lead by special people. Mrs. Charlotte Strowhorn brings it all together while Pastor Mose Carter leads us through the week. A big thanks is also extended to Bishop Little. His passion to mentor the young is the driving force behind everything. Lastly and most importantly, Camp New Happenings takes place because of the generosity of many like you. We pray that there will be many more summers filled with Camp New Happenings.