Thursday, October 22, 2009

7 Things (New Garden Edition)

We are nearing the end of my blogging about my days at New Garden Friends Meeting, but before we go I want to leave you with 7 Things I have not blogged about yet and know I will never forget about my time as a youth leader there.  You can read other great New Garden stories like Six on Six or Sand, Water, Sand, Water, Crab, Crab, Crab by visiting some of my earlier posts. So here they are, in no particular order:
  1. We did a Polaroid Panic Scavenger Hunt one Sunday afternoon in various teams, giving each team a list of pictures to take.  One of the pictures was to be of a team member kissing a mannequin.  The team that Marnee Larkins was on came back with a pic of Marnee molesting the poor mannequin; her hand was in a most unfortunate place, and so was his! Another group had an unforgettable picture of Robbie Hale in a dress. We laughed for days.  That was a great event, and those pictures cemented it in my memory!
  2. Field Day @ Quaker Lake was an annual event in the early '80's that drew huge crowds from all over the state.  Some teams would stack their youth group with local athletes so they could win the event; we never did.  But we always competed well, and we often declared ourselves the winners with a resounding "it just doesn't matter" cheer at the end of the day.  I am convinced that we were always the loudest group there, and that we always had more fun than anyone!
  3. After Dann Newby graduated and went to Wake Forest in the Fall of 1982, Kathy Fountain (his future wife) and I began writing bogus "secret admirer" letters to him, claiming to be a Wake student as well.  I don't remember much about it except how much fun Kathy and I had crafting the letters to be just so.  As a matter of fact, as I type this I realize I don't remember how (or if!) Dann ever found out where the letters came from!
  4. Marshall Ratledge (pictured above on left, with Darek Newby) had this "Gilligan" style floppy sailor hat that he was convinced was a "babe magnet."  As time went along he became Mag and the hat became the Mag Hat.  Woe unto anyone who tried to take the hat away from the Mag...
  5. I have mentioned this briefly in a previous posting, but the Class of 1983 was an amazing group in many ways.  We had top-ranked students from three different high schools who were part of that class, along with a number of other outstanding youth.  Jay Wilkins at Southern Guilford (he was kind of ours!), Kim Winters and Matt Mason at Northwest Guilford and Terri Johnson and Kathy Fountain at Western Guilford were all at the top of their classes.  There were also students from Greensboro Grimsley and Eastern Guilford who were a part of that group.  It was that kind of leadership and diversity that made my last class at New Garden one of the best I have ever been fortunate enough to work with.  We were also close enough to the same age that many of them became my good friends over the following years.
  6. There were so many siblings who were in the student ministry at New Garden, and I learned so much about how different brothers and sisters can be from one another.  Dick Lee was very different from his sister Ling, who was very different from their younger sister WillaLinc, Ann-Marie and Jason Dewar were all very much alike, yet so completely different.  The Edgerton girls, BethLori and Stephanie, were totally different from each other.  David and Tim Fountain were individuals, not clones of each other or their older sister.  And Scott Johnson and his sister Terri might as well have been from different planets!  I learned to deal with sibling rivalry, sibling protection, and family issues at a very young age, and all of those things served me well as I traveled my life's path.
  7. You have read it here before and you will again, but youth ministry is all about relationships- the ones we form with each other and the ones we form with God.  I thought I knew this to be true after my own high school days; I knew it to be true after my time as youth leader at New Garden.  Jennifer Bills took the time and care to calligraphy our Quaker Wedding Certificate several years after I left New Garden.  I watched people from different schools and very different family situations become great friends.  I watched Freddie Hollowell harass Kathryn Burris, Beth and Terri, and saw how much they all loved it.  I learned from Leigh Ellen Parker, Willa and Lori that anytime you have more than two middle school girls together, one of them feels left out- and that held true for all 28 years of my ministry!  And I learned that "friends are friends forever" from the relationships that have survived the miles and the years.  Darek Newby wrote me recently that he, Dann, Jay Wilkins and Marshall still get together once a year, and still tell the old stories.  I believe those kinds of relationships, lived out in love and friendship, make Jesus smile.  I certainly know they make me smile, and help me to know that at least in some small way those years were spent in the service of my God.
I look back in amazement now at all we did and accomplished, with no group t-shirts, no church van, no catchy group name (YFYF?  Come on...) and summers off.  Of course, we didn't know any better!  There are lots of names "dropped" above, and I could list many more from those days.  Each and every one of them holds a special place in my heart and played a part in my spiritual journey.  Thank you, God, for sharing their lives with me.

Because of Jesus,

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