We sent our graduates off with a special meal a few weeks ago, and the Hope House has quieted down for the summer. Summer has often been my favorite part of the year. Programming slows down to just one night a week, and the smaller group of students become better known to me. There’s also time for lingering conversations over lemonade in rocking chairs to reflect, as well as time to imagine a new vision for the upcoming year.
Hope House hired rising sophomore Kayla Massey as a 10-hour-week Administrator of Development and Marketing for a one-year trial basis. Between Kayla’s enthusiasm for the ministry and students who have approached us to be interns, my job has shifted quite a bit in the last 6 months. I went from supervising one year long intern to co-supervising five interns with Hope’s Director of Hospitality, Terry Paris. As my role has shifted from providing all the direct programming to “equipping the saints,” I find myself humbled by the gifts God has provided to the people around me. I’m grateful to Rivermont Presbyterian and Second Presbyterian who provide funds to support the ministry of two of our interns. The students who consistently approach us to ask if they can intern for free surprise me. But it shouldn’t.
Rivermont Presbyterian Church is creating a Scope and Sequence for children and youth, and in preparation we have been gathering weekly to discuss The Thoughtful Christian by Kenda Creasy Dean, professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. The book looks at a long-term study regarding trends among Christian youth and how they affect their long-term adult faith. Two things have stuck out to me: 1) Youth who have high faith regularly participate in the life of the church and know they and their ideas are valued, and 2) Youth want to participate in a God-story that compels them and has meaning for their lives. So when a college student asks if they can play a role in our ministry, Terry and I find a way because it means they have found meaning in our God-story, and want to be a bigger part of it.
Our God story, of course, starts with God. Yet what I’m feeling particularly grateful for at this time is how the Spirit has widened the story to include a Presbytery that tirelessly seeks to support us, to Churches who make room on their prayer chains and in their budgets, and even beyond to the particular individuals who come and cook, feed, clean, sit, serve, and pray with us weekly. The ministry these students are excited about is a witness to connectional Church at it’s best. What they see, who they see excites them, and it has compelled them to want to be a part of the something bigger. For all of you, I give thanks.
Rev. Tricia Dillon Thomas