Sunday School for school-aged kids starts September 16th, directly after morning service at 11:15 AM. Parents are welcomed to an Open House on that day. We invite all students to join a class. We have many talented teachers who devote their time to make this possible. Classes are located in the church basement and for English-speaking 5th and 6th graders on the second floor. Contact Sheila Ahlbrand or Lay Taw Du for more information.
Youth meet Sunday mornings during service time. Classes are on the second floor. For more information contact Sheila Ahlbrand.
TLC - youth 7th through 12th grade.
KFC - youth 3rd through 6th grade.
2011 Children & Youth report
by Sheila Ahlbrand
As I look over my calendar for 2010 I can hardly believe all the things that have happened in the course of the last year. Just looking at it makes me want to stop for a moment and catch my breath. When I take that deep breath, it clears my head and helps me to see not only how busy the last year has been, but how God has been at work through all of it.
Kids for Christ (KFC) our program for 3rd through 6th graders had an exciting year of monthly events. Some of the highlights included our annual Winter Beach Party, roller skating, a trip to Valleyfair, a movie night to watch Horton Hears a Who (and talk about faith), and an event called “Play and Pray” that focused on prayer, and included a half hour of silent prayer at various prayer stations. We also had our usual Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas parties, as well as a summer overnight with a theme of searching for God.
Believe it or not TLC, the church’s youth group, was even busier. TLC meets about twice a month on Friday evenings. In a typical meeting we play games, hang out, pray, and have a lesson/ discussion. Some of our other events have included a clean up night, Valentine, Halloween and Christmas parties, ice skating, roller skating, and a trip to Valleyfair.
My youth Sunday School class meets on Sunday mornings and has been averaging about 20 youth each Sunday. They have been continuing their ongoing offering for Feed My Starving Children, which began in 2008, and collected nearly $1000 this year. In May they were once again in charge of our annual Youth Sunday. The theme this year was “Love Like Crazy” and the message was a modern re-telling of the parable of the prodigal son. The youth not only planned the service, but provided special music and led the service including prayers and readings, and assisting the pastors with the communion. The whole group stayed at the church overnight in preparation and worked well past midnight.
This summer saw us set off once again for a week of Quest Camp at Green Lake. Wah Wah, and Dave Mathews and I served as adult leaders to twenty-two youth as we explored the week’s theme of “Prepare 4 the Journey.” Less than a month later the youth had another big event as Karen youth from all over the nation gathered at our church for the first annual National Karen Youth Leadership Conference. Many of our youth worked hard as volunteers with the conference planners, working late into the night to get everything ready for the huge event. I was asked to lead a workshop on teaching Jr. Church, which I present to a total of several hundred youth over three sessions in one day.
There was one TLC event that I didn’t mention earlier because I think it deserves special mention. This year, for the first time, our youth participated in Cardboard Box City, an event sponsored by the St. Paul Area Council of Churches to raise awareness of homelessness and to help raise money for Project Home. On October 21st, sixteen of us from First Baptist gathered with over 600 other young people and their leaders at the State Fairgrounds, where we slept outside in cardboard box shelters. The event organizers challenged the youth to raise $100 each. I’m proud to report that our youth did just that (the only group to do so), with our small group raising over 10% of the total amount raised at the event. The kids were cold, but didn’t complain much, and in the morning two of them even appeared on the local morning news to talk about their experience. It was quite a night!
Our Jr. Church continues strong with the help of our team of Jr. Church workers. While I teach the older Jr. Church session, six teenagers alternate teaching the younger session. Three of my original teachers graduated from high school this year and have gone on to college, but I have had new teenagers fill these positions, with three of these four new teachers being male. I’m really excited to see these young men stepping in to these leadership roles and providing a positive example for the children. In September we went to June Haram’s cabin for a retreat where we read scriptures, planned the calendar for the rest of the year and did some teacher training (oh and we also went boating, had a campfire, went for ice cream, played games and had a lot of fun!).
In December, for the first time in many years, the Jr. Church did not do the Christmas program. The Karen Youth have been doing a Christmas play for KBC for several years now. Although they work very hard on this production, with many nights of practice at the church, this program was usually presented on Christmas day so few, if any, people from First Baptist Church got a chance to see it. So this year, Pastor Bill and I asked Lay Taw Du if they would be willing to perform the play for us. They were very excited to be asked and we were blessed by their message. The youth did a marvelous job and it was wonderful to see this familiar story told from a Karen perspective. The children still delighted us by singing Go Tell it On the Mountain, and the whole day was a beautiful reminder of why we tell this story over and over again.
Finally, I was personally blessed to have the privilege of preaching at First Baptist Church three times in this last year, once on the first Sunday of Lent and twice in August. Each time I have prepared a sermon it has been a very Spirit-led experience and I thank the people of the church for supporting me as I explore this facet of ministry. At this time I am feeling led to continue moving in this direction and am seriously considering attending seminary in the future. Please pray for me as I prayerfully consider this next step.
Working with the children and youth of this church is such a blessing. As I teach them they continually teach me as well. To have such meaningful work with such amazing kids is truly a gift from God. Thank you for all prayers and support as we continue in this ministry together.
God Bless You,