Elyse Travis, Director of Children’s & Youth Ministries Centralia United Methodist Church
I took on this church amidst the middle of the pandemic in the fall of 2020. Coming from a small-town background, I quite frankly expected many similarities entering another small-community church. What I was not expecting, however, was the amount of compassion and love this church holds when it comes to fostering young disciples of Christ.
As I took on the role of this position, there seemed to be a continuous effort to fill these young-minded people with the love of Christ. This assumption did not disappoint as I was trusted to expand the youth ministry and began to work with the passionate volunteers.
Our current youth group on average has an attendance of about seven regular 6th-12th graders. We meet weekly in the high school classroom on Sundays from 4:30-6:00 p.m. During these times, these guys are allowed to open up by first stating the best and worst parts of their weeks as well as share where they’ve seen God. Our lessons have varied from Bible studies to discussing topics that the youth themselves have requested to talk about.
It amazes me the amount of love and curiosity these young people have. If you have the amazing opportunity to sit down with these bright spirited people, by all means do it. They will ask you the real questions they have about faith and how to apply them to the real world. I find an outstanding passion for wanting their faith to be lived not just within the church walls but within themselves to go out into their community. They talk about their faith in school, activities, and home lives. I believe this passion comes from the continuous support they get from their church family.
Centralia United Methodist Church has an overwhelming passion for family. This includes caring for all generations and teaching them what it means to be a disciple of Christ. As I have worked Sunday to Sunday with this job, I have seen volunteers work endless hours to host youth events, offer transportation, donate foods, and most of all be a role model. I believe being a disciple is not only being a firm believer in Christ, but also modeling it for others, so they can live as Jesus would have wanted us to. This modeling is made apparent in our community by shepherding our young disciples in showing them the Word of the Lord, the ways of grace, and a lively example of how to live in faith.
Some examples of how these young disciples have learned to grow into their faith is by having a tremendous interest in being active within the community. By living in community, they have seen their local needs and how they can be of service. They have made goody bags for the homeless, cleaned up yards for those who need it, tie-dyed masks to donate to a homeless shelter, wrapped Christmas presents for families, and plenty more.
During all of these events and times together, I have seen their unique personalities as we have all laughed together and lived in fellowship with one another. I’ve heard about their future passions, goals, and where God may lead them one day. They all are ambitious and carry a fiery hope of God. It brings me joy to know the future of this community and world is being poured into these children through God, and that they are willing to live out their faith lives. If you see one of these youngsters around in the community or at church, don’t be afraid to tell them how proud you are of them, because I certainly am very proud.
Elyse Travis, Centralia United Methodist Church