Our church is abundantly blessed with the energy of children and youth. At a time when most congregations struggle to attract young people, First English Lutheran has many active children and teens involved in every aspect of worship, fellowship and outreach. Planting seeds of faith –the mission of the Youth and Christian Education committees – has paid off big-time. Their motto: Faith is a journey that begins with birth and it’s our job to mentor that journey. The hundreds of pictures lining the windows in Melching Hall are proof positive FELC’s celebration of youth is the “miracle grow” building our congregation.
The faith journey begins with Baptism and promises of parents, godparents and the congregation to raise newly christened children to know the love of God. As children grow, the story of “Jesus loves me” is told in every Sunday school lesson and in every Children’s Message on the altar steps. God’s love and protection are reinforced during Holy Communion when babes in arms and little children receive Vicar Deb’s blessing as she makes the sign of the cross on their foreheads. By primary school they learn that God’s blessings should be passed on and giving to others can be a lot of fun – making cards and advent calendars for shut-ins, learning songs for caroling, putting on the Christmas play and going to Vacation Bible School.
Participation is important because we all are ministers of the church, no matter what our age. Teens are members of the Adult and Bell choirs. They also direct the children’s and youth choirs. Acolytes light the candles for worship and lead the processional at the start of the service.
Thanksgiving, repeating once again the promise of salvation first heard thousands of years ago, “This is my body, do this in remembrance of me. This is my blood shed for you.” They learn, too, that they have an important place at the altar. On Youth Sunday, it is the youngest among us who plan the service and deliver the message. Then comes three years of Confirmation Class and the study of Luther’s Catechism and the Bible. At Confirmation Camp lessons move out of the classroom with hands-on activities that teach faith must be put into action to help others. When the going gets tough, as it so often does in adolescence, they find that God’s love is always there to see them through. They learn that faith and the relationships it fosters are the source of true fun and happiness.
Here at FELC, children and youth are not the future of the church; they are the church! And each time you see or hear our youth as they participate in church, take a minute and give thanks to God for we – all of us – have been truly blessed.