This is a story of Leighton in her Jr. High Discipleship journey, as told by her mother, Regan Landreth.
This is published in The First Edition, January 2016.
Leighton is an intelligent, funny, fashionable, kind 7th grader. And while she is all those things, she is also known as a softball player. Leighton plays competitive softball and absolutely loves it. She spends much of her time on the ball fields and you'll find her wearing her team logo almost every chance she gets.
So recently when she came to me and Paul saying she was going to have to start missing Sunday afternoon softball practice so that she can participate in MYF, we were surprised. [MYF is our weekly Methodist Youth Fellowship gathering]
We told her that she'd probably have to pick one or the other - youth group at church or her softball team. On a team like this, you can't miss practice often and still play. But she was adamant that this is her team. She did not want to quit softball or change teams. But she didn’t want to miss MYF either.
What did she do about it?
Leighton took it upon herself to write to her coach:
"I've been thinking a lot and I feel like I've been missing out on church experiences that are important to me that happen on Sunday afternoons. I don't want to quit this team because I love it so much and I love playing softball more than anything else. Is there any possibility that in the future we can change Sunday practices? If not I may not be at every practice, it might be every other Sunday or something but I can't keep missing church. Please let me know what you think and we can talk about it further if we need to.
Thanks for your understanding,
We were proud of her for sure, but were not optimistic on how it would all work out.
A week later, the team received an email that practice times would change on Sundays. This allows Leighton to do both of these activities that are so important to her! What a blessing and gift. And an eye-opener to us that God is indeed working in her life. She trusts Him and realized that she just needed to move forward in faith.
Leighton is one of our confirmands this school year, and it has been observed by the Student Discipleship leaders that her confirmation class has one of the strongest backgrounds in biblical knowledge in a while. Recent new members have expressed that they came to First United Methodist Church because they were advised that our student ministry provides a strong faith foundation for students and they wanted that for their children. Leighton’s story demonstrates the power of God at work in our student ministry and it’s exactly why we seek to grow this area with the addition of Director of Jr. High Discipleship. Our stewardship focus for 2016 has highlighted the Jr. High ministry as one of five key opportunities to grow. We know we have a strong heritage in our congregation of people who experienced the same foundation of Christ through their Sunday School and MYF experiences growing up. We want to continue offering this foundation to our future generations. We hope you prayerfully consider how you may support our teenagers through your stewardship of time, presence and finances. For more information on Jr. High Student Discipleship, please contact Trevor Kennedy