VBS Connections

This past week was FaithPoint’s Vacation Bible School (VBS). It was a week filled with surf themed fun.  We talked, showed and sent home God’s love to the kids,”surfers” who were entrusted into our care.  We gad great teachers, “lifeguards” and directors that made this week really special.

The thing that got me was the connections that were made.  We partnered with 2 other churches in order to offer something better and more sustainable than we could do alone.  We have partnered with these congregations in the past, and the ministry partnerships like this just make sense.  We are all working toward the same goal, and we are three vital congregations that each have something unique to offer our community.

We also had amazing connection within our campers/surfers.  Each of our groups looked like a divers little school.  It was really neat to truly see the diversity of our community reflected in the groups as they connected and went throughout the day.  This was a little glimpse of the Kingdom.  Really cool!

Finally, there was a powerful connectional system at work in our mission project for the week.  We spent the weeks before VBS collecting school supplies.  At our mission station, we told the kids about the devastating flooding in West Virginia and the need for school supplies and that these kids who lost much would need things for school very soon.

One of FaithPoint’s members made fabric bags that we would then be able to place items in for the school supply kits as outlined by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).  Beautiful! (more info here about UMCOR and the school kits https://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits/School)

The kids had a great time learning and filling dozens of bags for this project.  However, when it was all said and done getting the bags to those in need in WV hit some bumps.  Collection and distribution centers seemed to be in short supply in our area.  There or some possible leads that migth get the kits to the affected area at some point, but no firm promises were made.

Enter Carlee! Woot!

Carlee is one of my former youth, amazingly faithful, a stand our journalist and FaithPoint Online community members.

At the wedding of a good friend of ours, we were talked about when she had to go back home to Charleston, WV. She said she was planning on going back Sunday afternoon. Perfect.  I asked if she would be our transporter of bags.  Absolutely!!! She said.

Not only is Carlee going to take the school kits into the heart of those hit hard by the flooding, but she has a school picked out.  Elkview Middle School.

Here is an article from Carlee’s paper about the devastation the floods did to a nearby high school: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-education/20160715/hoover-damages-equal-70-percent-of-wv-schools-value

Some of our #surfshack surfers praying over our mission project school supplies

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The picture above is Jillian and some of our VBS students praying over the bags during worship as they were getting ready to make their journey to the Elkview Middle School.

What a cool connectional system and a reminder of the power of people coming together in the name of God and making our community better.

Please continue to keep our students, churches and those impacted by the floods in your prayers.  Think about how you might help and respond to being the good in your community.

 

Just moments ago I received a message from Carlee that the supplies were delivered.  Mission Accomplished.  Way to go team.  Lets keep up the great work.

New Disciples Covenant

At the beginning of the month (June 8th) the church celebrated its “birthday” on and we welcomed in two new disciples who made a membership covenant.  My congregation and another partnered to participate in a joint confirmation class.  We had six students in total.  This was a really neat celebration because it was the culmination of a lot of hard work from the confirmands.  They had been in class for a few months learning about the foundations of the Christian faith.  They had conversation with each other, their parents, sponsors, and wrote a creeds about what they have come to know their faith to mean to them (watch the video for their creeds)

 

The hope for the New Disciples

Time and time again we told the students that the goal of the class was not to give them all of the church answers, but the tools to grow in their faith.  Answers only get you so far and build a great looking facade, but once the nice and neat “sunday school” answers begin to face the pressure of real life the facade begins to crack fairly easily.  Our hope is that with the tools that they have been equipped with and the care and nurturing of a church family these young people can continue to grow into the people God has in store for them to be.  After all, they cannot rely on the faith of their parents, pastors or friends when things get tough.  The need to have the tools and resources to grow and claim their own personal ministry.

 

The New Disciples Covenant

In the service we ask the students a couple of questions about placing their trust in Jesus and turning from the glamor of evil.  These questions are a way for them to make a public statement of their own faith that is dependant on no one else.  This is unlike when they were baptized as infants and didn’t really have a say in the matter.  This is in part because the Methodist church understands baptism as a moment where we acknowledge God claiming us into the family through grace.

Confirmation on the other hand is a time where we are able to claim God and Jesus as our personal Lord and savior.  So the students then make a covenant with God and with the Church that they will continue down the path of discipleship.  An important part is that the new disciples covenant is not a contract. What this means is that if one party goofs up, the other is not released from the agreement.  So if the student falls a way for a time, the church still committed to caring and loving that person.  And I would add, if the church messes up, as has been known to happen, the individual shows grace rather than walks away from the church.

 

My Hope

I have been doing confirmation classes for a while now and hundreds of students have come through the ranks making similar covenants.  As these new disciples begin a journey of faith I would hope that the church doesn’t forget about them.  Too many times confirmation feels like graduation from church when the reality is that it is the beginning of full incorporation into the church body.  I would hope that young people are able to see that they are a vital part of the church right now and not just when they become their parent’s age.  I would hope that chruch church would be open enough to see the wealth of wisdom and energy that our young people bring to the church as they see things in a different light.  I love it when I see congregations actively discipling young people in worship and giving them ownership over ministry.  I am seeking ways to give more authentic leadership/ownership to youth in my congregation now.

The bottom line is that when I see these new disciples making these covenants I hope they are not empty commitment, but commitments that will allow us as individuals to grow in our faith and strengthen the church universal.

 

 

Best Week Ever 2013 Day 6

Friday is here and it is the last day.  We began the day with a treasure hunt.  Teams raced around camp to complete tasks and find clues that eventually lead them to the camp store and some cool refreshment.

After lunch there were groups that headed out to the zip line and pamper pole. What a perfect way to end the week.

When parents came we had a final award ceremony and we were able to share about all of the awesome things we did throughout the week

Best Week Ever 2013 Day 5

It is Thursday and that means that it is the day where the campers get to sleep in and have breakfast in bed… a real favorite.  This lazy morning allowed them to just chill out with one another and get to know their cabin/lodge mates a little better.

Then It was off to Harper’s Ferry to walk the canal, take in some history and of course ICE CREAM!!! The rain ended the fun just a little early, but it just meant a little bit of a wet walk.

Thursday Evening was the talent show where campers, staff and volunteers gave it there all to audition for the open spots on the pirate ship.

Best Week Ever 2013 Day 3

Tuesday began with a splash as we played a bunch of water games after breakfast. Games included flinging water balloons, making and racing boats out of foil, bailing a raft (because nothing tires out some kiddos better than moving 100s of gallons of water.  The final game in the set was sure to take care of any dry spots the kids may have had.  The staff and volunteers disposed of the extra water balloons, water squirters and other water delivering mediums by playing a game of water tag with the kids.

In the afternoon, there was a group that went rafting, and other that swam, while yet another went hiking on Sawmill creek.  Many campers loved the rock painting station and will come home with some new and totally organic souvenirs.

Worship in the evening was great.  Pastor John talked about the story of Ruth and Naomi and the importance of keeping the promises we make even when it is really hard.

The day ended with a dance party and smores.  Our time to sleep under the stars was cut short by a stone that rolled in.

Best Week Ever 2013 Day 2

Monday kicked off with some group games in the morning.  Then after breakfast There were groups that went to the zipline, rafting, swimming and played games.  Some of the activity was cut a bit short because of some ominous weather.  The staff did a great job of getting everyone inside for the little storm and played some great games inside the cabin and lodge areas.

In worship we talked about the story of Jacob and Essau, and that as God wants something bigger for us we have to give God total control over our lives.

It was an awesome day. And Tuesday is going to be even better!!!!