More Musings from Seminary 

March 25, 2019

I travelled to Indianapolis a few weeks ago for another intensive class called Teens & Tweens: Ministry in Church and in the Community. Leading up to the class, I read five books; each one offered a different angle and perspective on working with youth. Several people asked me about the book list, so here it is:

  • Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, by Daniel Siegel
  • Branded: Adolescents Converting from Consumer Faith, by Katherine Turpin
  • Fear+Less Dialogues, by Gregory Ellison
  • Liberating Youth from Adolescence, by Jeremy Paul Myers
  • The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World, by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis

In addition to engaging the content of these books, we took two meaningful field trips. We visited Marion County Juvenile Court and Detention Center, an extremely powerful experience for me, which I talked about in my sermon last Sunday. We also visited Indiana Chin Baptist Church, which serves Chin Burmese immigrants and refugees. One thousand people worship there on Sundays; 600 kids attend their Sunday School. Both experiences helped us put our learning into context. I look forward to finding ways with Rev. Kevin Bechtold, Anna Colwell and the Faith Formation Board to integrate some of what I learned into future Plymouth programming.

I am also 9 weeks into a 14-week class on Thomas Merton, a 20th century Trappist monk, writer, social activist and mystic. I love this class and am especially taken with Merton’s concept of “true self.” Here is a quote from his New Seeds of Contemplation: “For me to be a saint means to be myself. . . therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and discovering my true self."

In our fast-paced, materialistic culture, how can we foster the discovery of and fidelity to our true selves? How can we help each other become who we already are? I think this question is important for everyone, and particularly critical for our children and youth.

I feel grateful for the opportunity to learn, and for the support of the Plymouth community while I do it! –Jennifer Castle



Topics: Church Life

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