2016 was an especially exciting year for Oak Hills’ Youth Ministries. This year, our youth came to know Jesus Christ more fully, and had opportunities to do his work in the world. As a youth ministry, we also got to witness how God provides for our needs as we serve him faithfully. Many thanks to all of you for supporting this important work in the lives of young people.
As always, the youth latenighter and community egg hunt was a blast! On a Friday night in late March, we played laser tag and stayed up until midnight to fill what felt like a million eggs with candy. The next morning, the youth were back at church bright and early to hide eggs for the children of the community to find. What a great ministry of joy!
Last spring we said goodbye to youth volunteer Raven Scheuermann, who moved with her family back to Virginia. It was hard losing such a faithful assistant, but God provided so wonderfully, and it was not long before we were able to recruit Kevin Gates to be our Summer Seminary Intern to the youth. Kevin has brought several years of youth ministry experience, great bible knowledge, deep and abiding faith, and a ton of energy and enthusiasm to our youth program. In fact, we loved Kevin so much, that we decded to employ him as Youth Ministry Intern for the entire year (starting in January 2017), a position that is renewable on a year-to-year basis. We have been so blessed to have Kevin, his wife Angela, and Angela’s daughter Laura Lynne in our OHPC community.
One of the most exciting developments in the youth ministry this year was our planning, fundraising-for, and attending Idaho Servant Adventures camp in Pritchard, Idaho. This trip was especially exciting as it was the first service or mission trip offered by our youth ministry in several years. The response on all fronts was amazing, and we raised all of the money needed for us to attend at a rate that would be affordable for our teens. We took 14 Middle and High School students and 4 adult leaders. We capped off our Idaho week with a youth-led Youth Mission Sunday in which both students and leaders shared our experiences with the Oak Hills congregation. Youth Mission Sunday was a powerful service of witness to God’s work in and through the youth of Oak Hills and their leaders.
Also in the summer, Kevin Gates led a weekly youth bible study. It was great to watch our most committed students show up at lunch each Thursday to open God’s word together and enjoy fellowship and learning.
In October, the youth Confirmation class began. Confirmation is an opportunity for our older youth to explore Christianity more deeply, with a view toward making a public profession of faith before the whole congregation. We had three participants: Elizabeth Gartner, Laura Lynne Lervold, and Andrew Spisla. These three students met weekly with me to study theology, dig more deeply into the bible, and learn more about our Presbyterian denomination, its creeds and way of functioning. They also met several times with their mentors (Chris Wright, Kimberly Nelson and Eben Polk) to examine their own personal journey of coming to know and trust Jesus Christ, and to prepare a personal statement of faith. I have been so impressed by these three students, and by their commitment to understanding the word of God and walking by the Spirit as they continue their pilgrimage as believers.
We also had a lot of fun in 2016: there were movie nights, we went mini golfing and bowling, we went down water slides, we had a crazy Halloween party, and we enjoyed participating in Carols and Cocoa with the rest of the congregation. It was a blast!
Thank you again to all who supported OHPC Youth Ministries in 2016, and for being a faithful and fruitful congregation: a community in which youth can flourish and grow.