Welcome to the next article in my 500 Years of Lutheranism series! This time, we will explore another topic that may not strike you as particular to Lutherans--youth ministry. Today, youth ministry is an area of emphasis for all kinds of Christian congregations, but Lutherans have made some great contributions over the years to the ways that the church shares faith with young people.
Perhaps the greatest of these came from Martin Luther himself in 1529, when he published his Small Catechism. Our Confirmation class joined the Adult Forum class during Lent this year for a study of this important little book. While it was wonderful to study the Small Catechism in a class format, the real power of the Small Catechism is best experienced beyond the walls of church buildings. Luther clearly intended the book to be used in the home, as he spelled out in his introduction to each portion of the Small Catechism: In a simple way in which the head of a household is to present them to the household. Luther’s Small Catechism, then, was a tool used, from its earliest days, to help parents share their faith with their children.
As time went on, Lutherans would impact the lives of many young people through Confirmation classes and schools. Of the many American Lutheran denominations that would eventually lead to our ELCA, the mostly Swedish Augustana Synod (1860-1962) had an especially strong reputation in the area of youth ministry. Trinity actually began in the Augustana Synod in 1890 under the name Bethlehem Swedish Lutheran Church, so we grew up with youth ministry as part of our congregational DNA. Scarcely a week passes for me as your pastor without someone sharing fond memories of Trinity’s positive impact on young people over the years, ranging from youth-led worship services to Leadership Lab at Augustana College to a rambunctious youth who eventually became a pastor.
These memories are wonderful, but like I said, youth ministry is in our DNA. This means that youth ministry is not just a thing of the past for Trinity, but something about which we continue to be excited! Our great youth leaders, Kathy Clifford and Tricia Davis, are inspiring young people here and building energy in advance of the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston that our youth will be attending next summer. During this month, I invite you to help stoke the Holy Spirit’s fire of youth ministry here by supporting the Trinity Youth’s upcoming fundraisers this month, listed below. Thank you for your support!
Pastor Micah Garnett has been our Pastor since July 2016. He grew up in York, PA and graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. He enjoys worship, working with social services in Fulton County, writing hymns, and cycling.