“Faith Formation happens when our children and youth experience worship, engage in faith practices and discussions at home with family, and develop in a spiritual community that surrounds and supports them. Our church is a place of belonging, where all are welcome, and we are working to show kids that they have a place to belong in the Church.”
Sand Point Community United Methodist Church Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry, Sarah Ritchey, closed her report with the above words after sharing some of the exciting activities the youth attending their church are able to participate in.
Ritchey creates age-specific worship resources for 3 different groups to help them engage with each week’s message. Monthly the youth prepare and serve a meal with their parents to the tenants of nearby Tent City 3. Several times a year kids gather at the church for games, crafts, dinner and a short movie. They build and strengthen important friendships while their parents enjoy a night out.
The legacy of this church is one that desires to invite youth to participate. Children have been prioritized at Sand Point Community UMC and that work is partly made possible by the Fran and Irv Marr Endowment, named for the donors Frances and Irvine Marr. Irv served as a board member, chairman of the finance committee, and was instrumental to the building phases of the church. He even hired the architect.
Irv wanted to see continued growth take place at Sand Point Community UMC. When setting up the endowment he wrote a letter to the Memorial & Endowment committee stating, “To be blunt and to the point, I would like to issue a ‘wake up’ call to create some new life in the church.” In face of competition for young families’ attention by nearby churches and little league teams, Irv wrote: “As they say on TV, ‘Let’s kick it up a notch’… Instead of waiting for them to come to us, we go after them.”
Since 2005, the Northwest United Methodist Foundation has been managing this endowment that was set up to benefit ministry to children and youth. Irv stated, “The funds generated from this endowment are intended to enhance the ministry of the Church, but not become a substitute for the financial responsibility of our members. It is our wish that the earnings from this fund be used freely but effectively for youth work.”
One of the things this endowment is making possible is the opportunity for continuing education for their staff. In April, Ritchey will be starting a course through Vibrant Faith focused on inter-generation ministry. Her hope is that this class will “help with my growth as a youth minister and give me some ideas to play around with so we can focus on our faith journey as a congregation!”
A creative and inspiring inter-generational ministry is already simmering. Recently, third graders were given bibles from mentors in the church who not only made notes and highlights in the text, but also shared ideas with the youth on how to study and be in the word.
These children are learning how to be in a community by sitting with their mentors while parents are busy in the choir. They are sharing in worship and prayer with elders in the church who are using their presence, gifts, and service to help nurture growth.
Members here carry on the legacy of inviting youth to participate. Ritchey noted, “I can plan frugally, I could do some of these things because people in the church support it, but because we have this endowment it provides a whole other level we can rise to.”
Programs at SPC are being carefully crafted to invite neighbors. Resources are being individually and lovingly designed for a youth hungry to have them. There is so much growth going on here and you can anticipate much more in the future.
The first suggestion made in Irv Marr’s letter to the Memorial & Endowment Committee was that they hire a “live-wire youth director.” The partnership between a passionate staff that is currently serving and the dreams planted by past members are making this growth possible.
What ministry could your generosity help to grow in the future of your church? Do you know if your church already has an endowment that you could contribute to? How could you be a part of this dream in your community?
By Sara Culp, Executive Assistant