Mission completed. Lessons learned.

Simply, my one goal when taking on the “Interim Youth Director” position last August 1st was to “keep the program running for a few months” until a new Youth Director could be hired. Well… “a few months” turned into 11 — very busy, very eye-opening, very rewarding months.

Many, many “thank yous” are in order because I could not have done this on my own and the generosity of time and talent that came forward was nothing short of miraculous – especially at the beginning. On August 1, 2013 we had a total of 0 people in line to lead the youth groups on Sunday nights. For the last couple of years there had only been one leader (first Chris, then Yosh) of the combined youth groups, and we had already decided that the middle school and high school groups needed to be split. So we needed to find at least two leaders and preferably 4 or 6 or 8 so that they would not have to lead every week. I had little faith that it could be done. Find 8 people where there had been none for the last two years? Well, at the end of the month we had 12! I’m still in wonder about how that happened. But it did, and off we went!

And the generosity just kept flowing. We needed Sunday School teachers – they showed up. We needed parents to make meals for fellowship time at the end of youth groups on Sunday nights. Parents made meals. We needed rides to events, people gave rides. We needed some new Youth Group leaders again after Christmas break – and they showed up, too! Fundraising for youth missions… Chuck asks us to help with the Epiphany Event and work for tips – we raised some money. The UMW needed models and servers for the Fashion Show – we raised even more money! We said we’d make pancakes – lots of hungry people showed up for the Mardi Gras Pancake Breakfast and we raised more money. The Asbury Players helped out, too, and the entire congregation really helped with the Easter Offering and the sale of body parts. There is amazing generosity in this congregation!

Through all this, I think I learned (or re-learned) a couple of lessons.

1) They say, “The Lord provides” — but it’s really only through the generosity and actions of people that the Lord gets His work done. I’ve seen great generosity and action in the congregation this past year and it’s humbling to be in the receiving end.

2) We’re all “interim”. Think about it. None of us stay in the same position forever. Even the youth in the program are inherently “interim” – they get to be old enough to participate, they participate, and then graduate and move on. It’s not a bad thing – in fact it’s quite good. It’s gives people a time to be involved, to leave their mark (their legacy, if you will), and then let the next group come along and build upon that.

So, now it’s my time to step back and let Chelsea “keep it running” for a while (hopefully a long while) and leave her legacy on the youth program here. I will still be involved where I can, but my “voice” in the direction of the program will be much quieter so as to give Chelsea a chance to establish herself as the leader and get to know the wonderful youth & awesome volunteers that I’ve begun to tell her about.

Lastly, I need to say thank you to Rob Rudd and SPRC for giving me the opportunity to serve and to Pastor Kim for her support and encouragement throughout the year. It’s been a real blessing in my life.

Tony Gnecco

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