Youth Workers Create New Network
What if the youth workers across the conference could form something similar to the clergy network to strengthen relationships, and share training and resources… This “Youth Worker Connection” idea started about a year ago when Eddie Erwin and Katie Solmonson (John Wesley UMC) and Eric Pugh (Lakewood UMC) spent time together in youth ministry certification class and started dreaming about the “what ifs.” While the core group launched in September with a youth volunteer training session as its first activity in the Houston area, building a bigger network across the state is the ultimate goal.
In addition to their individual youth ministry work, the three organizers are finding time to help form the infrastructure of this youth network and get the word out. “Whether you are full- or part-time staff, or a volunteer, we believe that youth workers are making an impact and the more we are connected the more revitalized our ministries will be,” says Eddie. The group is looking for host churches and ideas, but has a framework of gatherings planned through Summer 2013. In addition to periodic volunteer trainings where youth workers can share ideas and successes, the Youth Worker Connection agenda will also include “Lunch and Learn” speaker/lunch combo meetings and occasional “Regional Lunches.”
TAC Youth and Young Adult Ministries Director Thera Freeman is thrilled with the new group. “The events so far have been outstanding,” she says. “Youth workers -- meeting the needs of youth workers -- makes for connectionalism at its best!”
“Some of our events will be ideal for recruiting and training new workers and some, like the regional events, will provide a forum for churches that share common neighborhoods and schools to meet and be accountable in joint ministry,” adds Eddie. “We have such a big conference it will take awhile to connect everyone, but as we get the word out, I think others will realize this is an iron-sharpens-iron kind of group that benefits all involved.”
One of the key components in the vision for YWC, according to Thera, is spiritual: “YWC goals are to train, network and care for the souls of the United Methodist youth workers in the Texas Conference.”
Next on the dream drawing board are 1) a possible youth leader retreat in the spring and 2) a youth intern training event in the summer. For the schedule of meetings or more information check out: www.youthworkerconnection.org.