West Raleigh Nurtures Resilient Faith
contributed by Marietta Wynands
The wise teacher of the book of Proverbs noted that “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (16:9). Those of us who have a life-long association with church have witnessed many changes over the years. Plans, whether designed by a Director, a Superintendent, or a Church Education Committee, have come and gone. Based on some of the book titles in my office, such as “You Can Increase Sunday School Attendance” and “77 Ways to Energize Your Sunday School Class,” there has long been the desire to educate effectively in the church. We humans plan our course, and pray that the Lord will establish the path.
Precious relics of West Raleigh’s Sunday School heyday such as these remind us of the many faithful disciples who shared and influenced many. Yet the church is always reforming. We continue to learn from research about what is more likely to have an impact on faith. West Raleigh’s Youth Design Team has spent much time researching these elements and prioritizing plans for Faith Formation ministries. Recently, we have combined two committees into one – the Children, Youth, and Family Team. This will allow the newly formed committee to benefit from the YDT’s work and, we hope, be able to live into the following vision:
To intentionally support and engage all God’s people in an inclusive, nurturing, faithful community to grow a resilient faith that empowers them to SEEK God’s will and LIVE it!
Three priorities for moving forward are:
- Parent partnership – engage families in a supportive network that learns and serves together such that they are enabled to fulfill their primary role in nurturing faith.
- Intergenerational connections – move out of silos to connect all generations in meaningful, faith-forming relationships
- Growing youth leadership because student leaders tend to stick with faith.
We are blessed to see the Spirit of God at work in the life of the church. For instance, this past Tuesday, West Raleigh’s families hosted a birthday party at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in honor of EVERYBODY’S Birthday! We shared some memorable birthday greetings, such as the Popcorn Handshake, opened large gift-wrapped boxes using oven mitts, and triumphantly burst open a piñata! You might recall these piñatas – filled with tithed Halloween treasures. This annual tradition has gained significance over time as parents and grandparents encourage their loved ones to step outside their comfort zone, and in getting to know these students they begin to see the light of Jesus Christ in their GMS friends.
I invite you to ponder our mission even as you pray for our children and youth. Some questions to guide you:
- What has helped you have resilient faith?
- What empowers you to seek God’s will and live it?
- What is one thing you are doing or can do to be part of this mission supporting children, youth, and their parents?