Merry Christmas Everyone! As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I wanted to share and celebrate some of the wonderful things we have experienced this year as a youth group. Starting in January of last year, we held our first (at least for a number of years) Youth Officer Retreat. It was a fantastic time spent planning, sharing, and strengthening the friendships that the group has. It is unfortunate, but Makemie Woods where we held our retreat has since closed. We'll need to find a new spot for our next officer retreat. Closing out January, we also participated in Stop Hunger Now to pack meals for those in need across the globe.
In February, we held a great Lock-In, assembled Valentines for the church, and raised over $850 for THRIVE through Souper Bowl of Caring. (oh, and who won the Super Bowl? LOL)
In March, we helped and participated in our "Chat and Chew" session with our Bishop, a great event discussing the state of our Church and where she wants us to head, and we held our annual Beach Retreat at Sandbridge. A great weekend of reflection and community as a youth group.
April was really about preparing for our Easter Service. We had great weather for a change and held a wonderful service and served a fantastic breakfast. A great day all around.
In May, we held our sometimes annual YUK Night. It's a great celebration of being a youth and teamwork. A messy good time was had by all. We also held our annual school year end picnic at Newport News Park. We also celebrated and honored our women in the congregation for Mother's Day.
In June, we celebrated Tucker's graduation and then we set off for Lake Junaluska with our High School team. This is always a great time of exploring our relationship with God and this year we participated in a few mission activities while we were there - building a bench for an elementary school who had suffered the sudden passing of two of their students. It was wonderful to find a way to help support that community. We also did a quick trip to REACH in Roanoke to assist them in doing some of the demolition and preparation of a renovated house to sell back to the community. We also recognized and celebrated our men of the congregation at Father's Day.
July brought our Middle School Trip to REACH in Roanoke to continue our support of so many community services in the area. We did some construction work in the house our Senior High's worked in, we worked at the Foodbank, the local Soup Kitchen, as well as many others around Roanoke.
August was for some a month of rest prior to getting started with the school year, but many of our youth continued their summer mission work by going to Red Bird Mission. A wonderful multi-generational trip and some great work was accomplished there. We also presented our summer activities at a Youth led service in late August where we shared our experiences and activities with everyone. A wonderful service.
September is always the back to school month and we get our youth group back into the swing of things with a kick-off event. This year we invited our parents as well and shared a great time of fellowship and sharing about our program.
October was a month full of program within Youth and we also did some selling of concession candy for our Drama team. This is a month often dedicated to building the group with the addition of new people. We are blessed with some new youth and are excited to have them this year.
November brings our Middle School Eagle Eyrie trip, which was a tremendous event with lots of music, worship and reflection. We also held our "first in a long time" Turkey Hunt. Thanks to all the parents who helped drive and I think it was a success as I'll have to make the clues harder next time - they finished really much quicker than I had thought.
December is an interesting month as we have our High School Eagle Eyrie trip, which was just as good as the middle school trip and a tremendous time for all but we also are preparing for Christmas and the excitement of the birth of our Savior. We continued our tradition of caroling for some of our membership who can't get out as much and had a great celebration of Christmas as a youth group at our party. Thanks to all who helped drive/cook/coordinate both of those events.
In reflecting on this year, there were events that we celebrated, were excited about, felt good about, and generally were happy to participate in. As a group, there was one overwhelmingly difficult and sad event that has affected all of us in so many ways. The sudden passing of one of our most dedicated and long standing leaders was traumatic to all of us. Steve Crossett was a man of God who always had a hug for a youth, a shoulder to lean on, a word of encouragement for anyone, and a desire to help wherever he could. His passing leaves a huge hole in our heart and in our program. We celebrate his joining our Lord, but we mourn the emptiness we feel. As time has passed we have realized he has left an impression on each of us. I smile now when I go to lock up the church at night on a Sunday after youth, I know Steve is walking along side me reminding me to "check the house" and ensure all is secure. Especially that back door that doesn't always latch. He is certainly still leading us in different ways. His teaching and guidance have stayed with us and we will carry those with us always. We love you Steve.
Thanks for allowing me to share about our year. As you can see, it was one full of trips, program, activities and fund-raising. But more importantly, it was filled with opportunities to come closer to Christ and share that through our service and relationships with others. God Bless and may you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.