I am fortunate enough to have a unique perspective on the youth program at Derry as I have had the opportunity to experience it from both sides. Having grown up in Derry, I was fortunate enough to experience the Derry youth program first-hand as a middle school and then high school student, and while the memory of many of those experiences has faded over time, many still remain. As a youth at Derry there was always the opportunity to experience and cultivate friendships while learning how to live our lives as a follower of Jesus. Some of my best friends in those days were also members of the youth program here at Derry and I would always look forward to youth group or Sunday School to be with those friends as we would delve into scripture and learn about what God wanted from us as Christians.
Now, as a parent to two daughters in the youth program, I have had the opportunity to experience the program in a different way, through the eyes of my children. And while many things have changed in this church since the days of my youth, one thing that has remained consistent is the emphasis on the youth of this church. And through all of the different youth leaders and programs that I have seen as an adult in this church, the other thing that has remained the same is that emphasis on cultivating friendships and relationships between the youth, while still guiding them in a life led by the teachings of Jesus.
Derry is unique in that youth from several different school districts worship here and this allows for middle schoolers and high schoolers to get to know other young adults their age, that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to know, because they attend a different school. Both Allison and Kendall have established strong friendships with kids that go to other schools, like Derry Township, Palmyra and Lower Dauphin and they count these friends as some of their very best.
With another Youth Sunday upon us, it once again reminds me what wonderful things our youth can do in the service of our lord. Every year that I have been involved with this very special service, I am amazed at what these young people put together and present to our church. The talents and abilities of these young people to lead and to present their experiences with each other as they follow Jesus, transcends the generations. Youth Sunday has gone from a day that many members of the congregation might choose as a good Sunday to sleep in or take a break from church, to a service that I believe everyone in the church looks forward to as a time when they will be moved by the words and actions of our youth, in ways that they did not believe to be possible. The comments we hear from people of many different generations shows me that the Derry youth program is vibrant and strong and clearly a driving force in the lives of our children, as it was for me many years ago.
I trust and believe that these young adults will carry their experiences as participants in the Derry youth program forward with them as they continue to determine their paths in life and as they evolve into the future leaders of, not only Derry, but any church that is lucky enough to have them.
Indeed I tell you, the future of the Church is in good hands.