July 7, 2012

Sunday School Memories...

We have begun to receive resumes for our next Director of Children and Youth Ministries. It made me think back to my own experience as a kid in Sunday School.

I was confirmed in 1967 as a seventh-grader at William Street United Methodist Church in Delaware, Ohio. At that time I had already spent 13 years at the church and I have many tender memories of my time at “Bill Street.”

My earliest memory was being issued my yellow cherub choir robe in 1960 and then singing at the early and later Easter service. All the choirs were served a wonderful breakfast between services and I was left with my first strong sense of being a minister of the church. I still remember how wonderful that egg casserole tasted.

An embarrassing memory was walking in on Mrs. Peterle in the second-floor restroom in the old house that served as our education wing. I still cringe with abject mortification at the thought.

Another early memory is of my fourth grade class, a rowdy bunch to say the least. We boys were making life hard for Mr. Roth, our teacher, and made a wager with him. If he could get us an autographed photograph of Bart Starr, quarterback of the world champion Green Bay Packers, we would behave in class. The day he presented the picture, we were all amazed – Bart Starr!

That same year, I attended a dinner put on by my brother Steve’s MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) group led by Mr. Findlay, a very popular Jr. High teacher. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to join the youth group.

When I finally did join, Joe Clevenger, a college student from Ohio Wesleyan, took our confirmation group away to Camp Glen Helen for an overnight retreat. We had a wonderful and wild time and ever since, church retreats have remained one of the great joys of my life.

Miles Gottschall prepared our confirmation class, again bearing the particular abuse that only teenage boys can administer. With our preparation completed we were presented to the congregation. We were again issued robes – white this time – and 21 of us made our adult pledge of faith.

After confirmation, my church memories are filled with fellowship, service, worship, and just plain fun. Being in a high school youth group in a college town from 1968-1972 meant I took part in an expansive, radicalizing program of outreach, experimental worship, and critical thinking. Our leaders were again college students. Thanks to Linda LeSourd (daughter of the famous preacher Peter Marshall), Bonnie Dobey, and Will Jensen, my eyes were opened to a world where God acted in person.

So many memories, so many good friends, so many wonderful mentors. At the heart of my experience as a young person in church were relationships. First, with my peers. Second, with my teachers, leaders, and pastors. And third, being a member of the full Body of Christ in a partnership of generations.

As St. Andrew’s chooses a new Director of Children and Youth what we are choosing is a mentor, friend, leader, pastor, and peer who will change the lives not just of our children but of all our members. We are ready and eager for someone who can join us and transform us all.