This past weekend we had several of our youth, our Youth Interns Jessie and Caroline, and Fr. Tim as the Spiritual Director attend New Beginnings. The weekend’s theme was Paved Way and the middle schoolers experienced spiritual formation through games, talks, music, and building their relationships with leaders and peers.
During the weekend the middle schoolers came out of their shells making new friends and discussing topics with peers that are tough to discuss with others. They had some amazing discussions about friends, parents sibling, God’s Love, and what the church means to them.
Our thanks to the adults and senior high youth who formed the team and accompanied the middle school on this retreat weekend.
Last weekend, New Beginnings #45 was held at Camp Mikell. New Beginnings is a spiritual retreat for middle school youth staffed by high school youth and adult leaders. The retreat is a wonderful way to connect or reconnect with God.
Many youth from around the diocese, many of them from St. Matthew’s, gathered for music, spiritual talks, small group time, four-square competition, and fellowship. Having been the spiritual director for the weekend, I observed what I call “instant community.” No matter where everyone came from, what the previous week was like, or what grade you were in, people formed a community. I loved seeing how strangers and old friends created community and everyone was a part of it. No prerequisites or applications, just presence. As the weekend restart unfolded, I saw how tight the community had become and friendships that became solid and treasured. I saw the community that Jesus envisioned for the world unfold, which is beautiful and hopeful.
We are always asked in the baptismal liturgy, “Will you respect the dignity of every human being?” and New Beginnings is the place where the answer to this question is not just answered but is put into practice. We have the opportunity to learn so much from teenagers about our faith. We can see how the love of Jesus for all is the community that young people form.
Let’s continue to support our youth ministries and renewal retreats for youth as much as possible. And let’s embrace New Beginnings as a model for the community we want to build, not just because Jesus wants to make it a reality for us, but because it will help form us into the people that God wants us to be.
Blessings and Beginnings, Fr. Tim+
Many thanks! and kudos to the Youth and the youth parents for an outstanding Pancake Supper on Shrove Tuesday, February 21! We had a great turnout for the evening, and appreciate all the support from the parish for our youth program. All funds generated will support youth programs.
Check out a few photos from the evening!
Building & Grounds has had another busy month! We began the month scaring the attendees of the Wednesday Healing Prayer service when they arrived for the service by having a parking lot full of Snellville and Gwinnett Police officers. BUT The reason was for protection training–and not crime. John Eberhart had attended a Homeland Security Presentation sponsored by the Diocese and had the speaker come speak with our local law enforcement, the vestry, and the preschool directors. We walked the campus and received a security audit. We discovered there are grants to help purchase systems for the church, and many other tips and procedures we will be working on in the next months/year.
Other projects: B&G is having the roof repaired over the Parish Hall where a leak is causing the parish hall ceiling to peel away. The roof is now repaired, and bids are coming in for the ceiling. Have you noticed the front courtyard sidewalk dipping? This is another issue that is being repaired. Apparently, the ground below was being compressed, but PolyLift has been able to lift and level it to eliminate the tripping hazard. Thank you to our Building and Grounds Team for their vigilance.
Christian Education began the CE year with a wonderful Sign-Up Circus. There were clowns, popcorn, facepainting, and even an elephant (although it was one of the wonderful balloon creations along with turtles, ladybugs, swords). The children and youth classes will begin full force this week. The adult classes met initially last week and will resume on September 11. And come out for our August Adult Forums! We will be having informational sessions to help you listen for God’s Gifts to help you serve St. Matthews (Stewardship-but don’t let that keep you away or you will miss the fun.) and an Update of the new rector search with the Parish Profile Presentation.
Youth Group began last weekend with a wonderful Youth Retreat up at Camp Mikell! What a great way to build the group with a “Be At Peace” theme. This school year the Youth Group has hired two interns to help guild the spiritual growth in the program. Caroline Bowen and Jessie Hurst are former Youth members, returning to share God’s Love with our young adults.
Some Upcoming Dates – Mark your calendar to be involved in our ministries:
August 26 – Restaurant Foyers: Universal Joint, Lawrenceville, Dinner at 7pm
August 29 – Outreach Co-op Dinner
September 17 – St. Matthew’s Gwinnett Stripers Baseball Game (Stripers are a type of fish known in the GA waters.)
September 25 – St. Matthew’s Celebration Luncheon and Ministry Fair
October 8 – Vestry and Committee Chairs Planning Meeting
October 9 – Blessing of the Animals
Wow! What a fun week surfing through the scriptures at VBS! The sanctuary was transformed to a coral reef and the parish hall was home to a tiki bar and beach scene. You may feel like you’re under the sea thanks to Becky Olbon’s handiwork with the window decorations.
We had a smaller than usual group of campers but it was the perfect way to get back in to the swing of things after a 2-year hiatus. Most of our campers were from the community so we’re hoping some will return to St. Matt’s for Sunday School and church.
Thanks so much to all our adult and youth volunteers who made VBS happen! We had many “VBS veterans” and many “rookies” who made it a great week for everyone. Huge thanks to our center leaders: Juanita Little (crafts), Trisha Voiles and Cheryl Wheeler (snack and Bible story), Karen Whitehead and Rich Morris (music), and Greg Andrews and Kenny Adkins (recreation). Jessie Hurst organized the youth, and Susan Carson helped with registration and check in. Our Shepherds were Betty Medlin, Carol Maneol, Carol Walsh, Jay Jones, Josh Hurst, Judith Kimsey, Mona Livermont and Liz Livermont. And additional volunteers in Snack, Bible Story and Crafts were Gail Sawyer, Beth DiGiovanni, Nancy Griner, Sharon Hansen, Susan Adkins, Vicki Conway and Paula Pownell. And Karen Wilson even taught yoga during Recreation one day!
Our youth volunteer force was small but mighty: Becky and Jessie Barringer, Maddie Ferrell-Mixon, Mia Lewis, Rory Morris, Stanley Livermont and Jacob Hurst.
Thank you all for answering the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus at VBS!
Terri Hurst and Becky Olbon
New Beginnings is a Middle School Episcopal renewal weekend held at Camp Mikell. Prayer Partners are family and friends who agree to pray intentionally for one or more of those attending the weekend as participants, team, or adult sponsors. Prayer Partners link the parish to the weekend, a tangible way to provide support and encouragement to our youth and those accompanying them.
“Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.” Psalm 95, v.1-2