Youth Reflect on Experience Thinking About Working for God

6/1/2017
By Debby Kirk

Five youth have been exploring ministry in Thinking About Working For God (TAWFG) Apprenticeships for the last two months. Youth were placed at host churches to do a job shadow and have a close up view of parish ministry.  This 40 hour paid apprenticeship also included a weekly online component to check in and share prayers.

The program wrapped up with a celebration on May 31 at the Connecticut Conference office.  Apprentices shared reflections with their pastors, parents, youth leaders and friends.
 
Claire Byko, from Canton Center works part time in a school food service and volunteers every week at the Open Door Soup Kitchen in Winsted. “I think God’s calling for me is to serve food for others. I believe God is watching over me, and he wants me to find a way to do the things I love, whether it’s playing drums in our community band, serving food to people at the soup kitchen, or working in God's Backyard at Silver Lake."
 
"I’ve realized over the years and through this program faith is an important part in my life. Most of my friends have that Christian faith in their life, and I like seeing that in a person, whether it’s friends or family and it’s something I want to share with others. I’m glad I got the chance to do this opportunity," she said.
 
Reid Young, a youth from Memorial Congregational in Sudbury, MA, shared this reflection: “At my final Sunday, I was asked to help with the children’s moment. For this, we pretended that we had invented sunglasses that allowed us to see the world upside down. From there, we asked the kids (and adults!) to try on these sunglasses and “see” what it was like. It was a lot of fun. Afterwards, we talked about how Jesus turned the disciples’ world upside down by telling them the true way to go about life.”
 
Apprentices apply for the program in early spring and are then placed at a congregation close to home. Tyra DeBoise, a high school senior who worships at Dixwell Avenue in New Haven, went crosstown to the Spring Glen Church.  “Everyone has given me a warm welcome and I look forward to sharing music in an upcoming service,” commented Tyra.
 
Youth are encouraged to ‘try on’ a spiritual practice during the apprenticeship.  Xaniyah Sanders of First Church of Christ, Congregational in Hartford chose journal writing. “I've been trying to write in my journal for about an hour every day to reflect on my life. Not every day was a good day but I think that it is good to write even when things aren't going well. It gives me more insight on things and helps with problem solving. I think that writing has helped me grow more spiritually in that I make a conscious thought to focus on the positive in my life."
 
The apprenticeship encourages reflection with the aim of self-awareness.  Evelyn Cass attributed her spiritual growth to her upbringing at Asylum Hill and her time on staff at Silver Lake. “I feel that my skills are mainly people-oriented. I can communicate and connect with others easily, and always look for the good in others. I also feel that I am a leader. Often, people think of leaders as having to be bold, loud individuals, and while this is important in some situations, I believe that quieter people like myself can also be great leaders. I am approachable and kind, but also confident and able to approach situations in a competent and logical way.”
 
Youth and parents expressed gratitude to their home congregations and pastors.  Parents beamed with pride at the maturity, poise, and faith expressed by their children.  
 
Rev. Margret Hofmeister of North Congregational Church in New Hartford stated, “Having an apprentice helped me to commit to a spiritual practice for this time period and that has been a blessing.”

“Our apprentice brought fresh energy to our congregation. Xaniyah volunteered to participate in church activities. She offered questions and suggestions from her youthful perspective when she attended a Council meeting,” commented Rev. Rhonda Myers.
 
At the close of the evening, Rev. Tamara Moreland, Northwest Central Regional Minister observed, “It has been a joy to see young people be courageous about speaking up for God and wanting to explore leadership in the church.”
 
Click here for more information about TAWFG or contact Debby Kirk, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at 86-761-7103.

Save the date: Shine! TAWFG Retreat for high school youth will be held on November 3-5 at Silver Lake.