Friday, October 19, 2012

Back to the Beginning

This post originally appeared on August 27, 2009.  In other words, it was post #2.  I thought maybe it was time for a review...

Some of that old New Garden gang, around 1980.
Over my 28 years in youth ministry the number one question I would get from students and their parents was, "How did you get into this anyway?" It's not a short answer, but it's a fairly simple one. I grew up in NC as an only child.  My family was very active in a United Methodist Church until I was around 9 years old.  At that point, their church split over a pastoral change (pastoral changes in Methodist churches have NOT been good to me!) and my parents were caught in the middle. They wound up dropping out of church completely, and really never went back. But that didn't mean they gave up on God.  We still prayed, still read scripture, and still attended Asheboro Friends (Quaker) Meeting whenever we were visiting my maternal grandparents.  My mom's dad, the late Carl Clark, was one of those guys who wasn't doing church right unless he beat the pastor there on Sunday mornings.  He ingrained in me a love of the church- eventually. On the whole I was more than happy to stay home on Sunday mornings and watch Notre Dame football highlights with Lindsey Nelson and Paul Hornung. At this point, sports were my life, especially baseball.  In the summer after 7th grade my new friend Steve Semmler invited me to go to church camp with him at a place called Quaker Lake, but I couldn't because of baseball. Plus, I wasn't ready for the whole "church thing" just yet.

All of that changed once my 8th grade school year started.  Steve kept inviting me to youth at New Garden Friends Meeting, and I kept making excuses not to go.  Finally, in late September of 1972, I relented and went roller skating with the group.  I would love to be able to tell you that Steve's evangelism techniques or a life changing vision from God changed my heart, but the fact is that a girl we'll call Becky (since that was her name!) was going skating too!  And that was all the inspiration I needed. While nothing romantic ever came of my crush on Becky, I was hooked on youth group. I went with them on a couple of trips to the beach and to Sam Levering's apple orchard in VA, and then the following summer I went to Quaker Lake for the first time. I entered high school with the people from that youth group- Steve, Becky, Beth, Tammy, Carl, Lisa, Martha, Andy, Tim, Mary Lynne and others- as the most important people in my lives, and they would remain so for all of my high school years, and for many, beyond. And the youth leaders who shared their lives with us- DB3 and BethLouise, and Rob and Barbie- inspired me greatly for the next 30 years.

During those years I also became obsessed with working at Quaker Lake upon graduation.  I volunteered pretty much the entire summer of 1977, and then was hired for summer staff in 1978. Towards the end of the summer a local pastor, David Robinson, came to me and asked me if I would consider being the youth leader at Centre Friends Meeting. It sounded like fun to me, so I said yes.  I had no idea that I had just started down a path that would lead me directly into the service of God and into 28 years of amazing people, places and stories. I was 18 when I led my first youth meeting. I might as well have been Peter stepping out of the boat- I had no idea where I was going or how big the waves were going to be, but Jesus had called me, and I had answered. Bring on the tsunami....

Because of Jesus,

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