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:
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