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Potomac Church Builds Youth Faith “From the Ground Up”
Story by U Lun and Taashi Rowe
Two teens get ready for baptism at Sligo Church in Takoma Park, Md.
“We had planned to end the series in July,” said Pranitha Fielder, the church’s associate pastor, “but I felt impressed to turn it into a weekly service for youth and young adults. I asked God to give me a sign if this was the direction to go.” A week into the series, Charles Tapp, senior pastor, approached her with the idea of implementing such a worship service.
Determined to replicate the energy and enthusiasm of the series, Sligo pastors have now tripled the frequency of their youth and young adult church services. Instead of hosting a youth church once a month, a separate church is held at the same time as the main worship service.
Growing With Others
However, the evangelism series has not only impacted the young people but also called for the participation of several Sligo members who are further along in their spiritual walk.
“One of the young people in our group came to me and told me that she was really struggling to overcome some issues in her life,” Fielder said. “We prayed together but we both realized that wasn’t enough. That’s when we decided to set her up with a spiritual mentor. We are social creatures and God designed us to grow with other people.”
Elizabeth Wear, a retired professor who worked at nearby Washington Adventist University and member of Sligo church since 1980, accepted the call to mentorship. Wear and her mentee call each other every day at 6 a.m. and talk for about 15 minutes. “We try to keep each other accountable,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m supposed to know more than she does. I’m just a conduit to get her to the right Mentor. I just like pointing people to God as the instructor and to the Bible as point of reference.”
Fielder, Debbie Eisele, the congregational pastor, and Erwin Mack, the head elder, are in the process of pairing up 18 young people with mentors. Fielder already sees the benefits of this program. She mentioned that one newly baptized teenager could have easily slipped through the cracks. As the only Christian in her family she had no support at home and none at school. But she now has someone who connects with her regularly and spends time getting to know her and her family.
“This is a very organic thing,” Fielder said. “It’s not a program we’re initiating but there are just people who had a need. … We are looking for deeply spiritual people who can love these kids and communicate grace to them not judge them.”
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