Tag Archive: youth

Sanger-Harris Mural

[Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4] The picture is of the mural on the south side of Sanger Harris. There was also one on the west side of the store, but a little different. When the artist – I forget who it was – painted these murals, it was a big freaking deal.  The media came out and took pictures, filmed interviews, and the like.  And not just Dallas media.

And it was interesting. On several occasions I knew of – or was with – people who spent a considerable amount of time staring at the mural transfixed. No doubt it was due to consumption of one substance or another. Although the mural was, indeed, fascinating, they would have been just as transfixed in a donut shop watching the holes go through the donuts – if you catch my drift.

Speaking of substances, transfixation, and the mall, there would be, maybe once or twice a year, a carnival in the parking lot of the mall. I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to find time – and remember – to go take pictures of the carnival they have had there. The carnival there recently was a full scale traveling carnival. Nice, well-kept  rides, fun house, food, the works. Despite what the pictures show, there were people there. Just not where I was taking pictures.

Which is a contrast to the fly by night outfits that used to come through back in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Some of them had, maybe, five to eight rides. None of them were big rides. They might have a little trailer where they served popcorn and drinks. The man in charge was usually fat, big, and smoked cigars. It was like there was a corrupt carnival managers union.

I had friends that worked at the carnivals – usually only once. I was not fond of working around moving metal parts that squeaked and sounded like they could fall apart at a moments notice with tremendous speed. The manager would promise to pay them like $10 an hour -quite a bit back then. He would pay them on Tuesday, the second day, for the first day if not both days. Then he said he would pay them again on Friday.

When Friday came he would say that he had already been to the bank -he paid in cash. He said he would pay them on Sunday with a bonus if they would go ahead and work Saturday. You see it coming, don’t you? My friends would show up on Sunday morning and there would be nothing but a bunch of trash in the parking lot blowing in the breeze.

Sometimes things change for the better. I was tempted to visit the carnival, but I was short on time. That, and I don’t do rides – except maybe, the Log Ride and the Runaway Mine Train at Six Flags. However, standing there watching the carnival, for a while I was back there as a teenager. Sauntering through rides and bright lights, watching the girls that were wandering through. Having nothing else to do or any better place to go. Maybe Papa’s Pizza on Northwest Highway for a pitcher of beer.

Then I sighed, got back in the car, and drove back home to one of the girls I watched back then. I guess change is relative, huh?

Peace be with you.


Christ Alive Band with JR Byrd 2Christ UMC Farmers Branch hosted the conference-wide Children’s and Youth Volunteer Training Event on Saturday morning, August 13. Amy Ruppersberg, Children’s Director, and David Magallanes, Student Ministries Director, welcomed the volunteers at 8:30 a.m. Amy thanked everyone for volunteering and went over the positions and the schedule. David said a prayer before the group departed to the greeting stations or the narthex for registration and giving directions.

A breakfast table had a variety of pastry options, fruit, and even homemade sausage biscuits. People from churches around the conference arrived to check in or register at 9 a.m. Worship began in the sanctuary at 9:15 with the Christ Alive Band. The keynote speaker was Joe Stobaugh, Executive Minister of Worship and Arts at Grace Avenue UMC in Frisco.

Stobaugh began by playing a praise song on ukulele, then had the congregation to join Joe Stobaugh on ukulelehim in singing. He is the leader of the ukulele choir at Grace Avenue. Joe is also a very outgoing and affable man and a practiced speaker. He shared a nice – and personal – story of not being interested at all in singing when he was growing up. A mentor saw some potential in him and talked him into playing guitar in the band, even offering to give him a very nice guitar for one dollar. Stobaugh said he could not do that. To which his mentor said he would give it to him for free with two conditions. One, he would only play music for God on the guitar. Two, when the time came, he would pass it on to another youth. Joe still has the guitar and plays it. When the time comes he will pass it on as agreed. An excellent example of the effect a volunteer can have on children and youth.

Beth McClure

Beth McClure

Appreciating and Equipping Your Volunteers was facilitated by the Children’s Minister at Grace Avenue UMC, Kristen Lane. She discussed tools of the trade and giving volunteers what they need and more. Kristen was a lively and vibrant speaker, as was Beth McClure. Beth led the Your Classroom is God’s Classroom workshop. She is the Director of the Early Development Program at Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton. McClure demonstrated the way she motivated the children to behave by using little “jingles” that let the children know was coming next.

Kelly Carpenter of the Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministry of the North Texas

Kelly Carpenter at left corner of table

Kelly Carpenter at left corner of table

Conference, led a roundtable for Children’s Ministry in the first session and Youth Ministry in the second session. The round tables were discussions about life, ministry, balance, programming, and anything needing to be discussed. Some good ideas were shared and a few people were able to get some things off their chest as to some effects of volunteering.

Morgan Stafford

Morgan Stafford

In the second session, which pertained to youth, Morgan Stafford led the workshop on The Adventure of Youth Mentoring. As Executive Director at Christ’s Foundry, Stafford discussed the joys and challenges of youth mentoring. Bill Mauldin, Director of Family Ministries at Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton, talked to volunteers about applying principles from the book “Good to Great” to youth programs.


Working together to create a smooth handoff between Children’s and Youth Ministry was

Amy Ruppersberg on left, David Magallanes on right.

Amy Ruppersberg on left, David Magallanes on right.

the subject of The Phases of Children’s and Youth Ministry. Amy Ruppersberg and David Magallanes are well positioned to tackle the subject. For one thing, they talk often and are working toward that smooth handoff with the children at Christ UMC. The transition from one phase of life to another can be a lot for some children to absorb all at once. Knowing the youth director personally while still in elementary school goes a long way toward easing the effect of growing up.

Kenny Dickson

Kenny Dickson

Pastor Kenny Dickson of Christ UMC, along with members Jerry Russell and Darren Gardner, presented the Taking It To the Streets session. Dickson explained how the title to a Doobie Brothers song became the church’s theme for the year. Which means intentionally going beyond the walls of the church into the community and actually becoming involved, not just simply being a presence. Going back to thinking of the church as the people, not just the physical building. Activities were planned with just that interaction with the community in mind. From the Easter egg hunt in a local park, to swim nights at the community pool, and delivering food to elementary children as part of Sack Summer Hunger. Mission, fellowship, and worship opportunities with the community are relatively endless. There is always a new need, a new soul to be saved, or new crises to help someone deal with. And all outside of the church building.

After the final sessions, everyone gathered in the gym for lunch. Which consisted of box Lunch 2lunches from Jason’s Deli provided by the North Texas Conference. Dot Stewart of CUMC helped set up the tables for lunch, as well as the breakfast table, and served drinks at both. Attendees and presenters alike gathered to go over what they had learned, new ideas they came up with, and general church and conference news.

Amy Ruppersberg and David Magallanes should be commended for planning the training event. The presenters should be commended for passing along the knowledge they have acquired through practical application. Amy and David thanked the volunteers from Christ UMC who helped the morning move along smoothly. The attendees should be appreciated for taking time out of their weekend to learn how to more effectively serve the children and youth. And all volunteers everywhere need to be thanked and appreciated. Since biblical times, when faithful volunteers kept house churches alive, volunteers are still keeping churches alive through ministry and mission – inside and outside of the church building.

Peace be with you.

St. Nick's entrance

St. Nick’s entrance

Every year, for a number of years now, due to the efforts of Debbie Darland, her family, and volunteers, St. Nick/Santa has arrived at Christ UMC in Farmers Branch on a Saturday in December. This year it was December 12th. As Santa was still making his way there, the morning began with a sing-a-long led by Youth Director David Magallanes with Jaime Boenig and Jack Texada.

After the sing-a-long, Debbie announced that Mrs. Claus was sick and would not read the Christmas story this year. And since Santa was “still stuck in traffic,” Katheryn Taylor would read to the children. Which she did, quite well. Since she helps with the children on a regular basis, they were very receptive to her.

Then Santa arrived, preceded by a penguin. Why the penguin led him in is still a mystery. Since Mrs. Claus was ill did a penguin fill in? Why wasn’t an elf taking her place? Do people prefer penguins over elves? And why make us choose between elves and penguins anyway?

Regardless of the penguin/elf debate, Santa took his seat and began to call the children to him. Which Jamie Boenig, David Magallanes, Jack Texadasounds like someone else we know who is associated with Christmas. The children wanted to see Santa Claus. But they also spent time at the manger scene to the right of the stage, looking at baby Jesus.

A list was posted of the order in which the children would be called to see Santa. The families who were further down the list went to get breakfast so they could eat before their child/children’s names were called. Those at the first of the list would eat after talking to Santa and having their picture taken. Members of the Pathfinders Sunday school class cheerfully cooked and served the breakfast.

Rachel Meier and Carly ImthurnSanta finally made his way through all the children and headed on to the next stop. The youth helped to clean up the gym and the Pathfinders class cleaned the kitchen. The children headed home with their parents. Some of the children would be asleep before too long. But all left excited and happy. Thanks to Debbie Darland and family, the youth, Pathfinders class, and all other volunteers not named here for another successful Breakfast with St. Nick, with 80 children this year.

Peace be with you.

The month of August was the most boring part of the summer when I was growing up. And, judging from my daughter and now my sons, it has not changed a whole lot – except for school beginning before Labor Day, rather than after. Were it not for football workouts, the tension would be unbearable. Even with cell phones, Facebook, email, and so on, the circle of close friends is smaller during the summer than during the school year. Partially because some of those friends are only close friends when you see each other at school. After school, they are not so close.

The only technological device I had was a transistor radio (not complaining – just explaining). There was as yet no such thing as FM radio. Since the few close friends I had during the summer planned their vacations for August, I was forced to resort to my “B” list. You know, the friends that I could put up with if I had to. But B list friends could lead you to do things you would not ordinarily do.

One particular August, hot as usual, I was stuck with a B list friend. He lived next door and I think his name was Jeffrey. He was a little younger than I was, which was partly why he was on the B list. Across the dirt alley behind our homes was a fairly large park without many trees.

Part of the park doubled as the schoolyard for the elementary school on the left as we walked out the back gate. A creek ran along the other side of the park across from the school. The alley where we were standing formed the eastern border of the park and ended on the right at the creek which was the northern border. A few houses to the left, the dirt alley ended when a side street between two houses became the drive behind the school.

The back of the cafeteria was at that corner of the building. There was a short stairway leading up to the kitchen door about a hundred feet from the corner. The door was only used for the kitchen personnel and smaller deliveries. The truck delivery door was to the right, between the stairway and the end of the building.

Jeffrey and I were walking through the parking lot from the alley, bored as always in August. We noticed a wooden “door” of sorts in the side of the building under the floor of the cafeteria four feet past the stairwell. An open lock hung in the latch of the door. We took out the lock, opened the door, and crawled through the 3′ x 3′ space, finding ourselves under the cafeteria. I worked my way through the pipes to where I figured the cafeteria was and found another door above me in the floor.

Surprisingly, that door was unlocked as well.  We climbed up into the middle of the kitchen. We headed straight for the refrigerator. Jeffrey and I helped ourselves to canned fruit,  olives, and pickles. Maybe a few slices of cheese – they were not individually wrapped then. After we had a snack, there was not much else to do. We had no interest in any other part of the school and we were not completely sure no one else was there.

Getting out was a little different than getting in – we did not know if anyone would be looking. But we made it out without incident and walked away quickly. We revisited the kitchen a few times that August – all without incident. I noticed after school began that the custodian had fastened the lock.

I have no doubt Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn engaged in the same type of questionable activity – the mischievous behavior of bored children. But I do not know how much guilt they felt. As for myself, I did not think about it too much, but I knew deep down that I was sinning at the time. Which made it worse that I did it anyway. I probably rationalized the actions by thinking that no one was hurt.

Yet it was a crime (albeit a misdemeanor) and a sin. Ironically, since I lived on the edge  of the schoolyard/park, I always went home for lunch. I was saved the feeling of regret when returning to the scene of the crime. Other than a cursory view from the kitchen, I never saw the cafeteria – just the kitchen and under the floor.

I could not be legally prosecuted now. The statute of limitations on school cafeteria theft of produce and condiments has surely expired. But God knows. It may be low on my list of sins in order of importance, but it is still on the list. Just another one of the things I continue to ask God’s forgiveness for, and that I have in common with Tom Sawyer.

Peace be with you.

* –  Tom Sawyer was one of the first books I read growing up. Things I Have in Common with Tom Sawyer is a series of posts about the activities of prepubescent and adolescent youth – mostly mine. Times when I was in a “Tom Sawyer” frame of mind. Read the first post here.

The full title of the opening plenary of the RCC national convention was “The Interdependence of Faith and Government Working for the Common Good.” The theme of the convention – being in Philadelphia and all – was “Interdependence: Religion Communication Today.” As I stated in my previous post, the plenary was scheduled to begin at 1:30 and I was walking down the stairs from the second floor skybridge to the lobby a few minutes later. Check-in at the hotel was not until 4 p.m., so, backpack and computer bag in hand – and on shoulder – I checked in to the convention and went in for the plenary.

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Center at the Department of Education, moderated the panel of Directors of FBNP Centers. In addition to her work at the DOE, Girton-Mitchell also started a consulting firm to assist churches and nonprofits in advocacy, leadership development, and conflict resolution. The mission of the Center at the DOE is to promote student achievement by connecting schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based.

The second panelist, Zeenat Rahman, acting director of the Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared in The Washington Post, National Public Radio, and CNN speaking on issues related to Muslim identity, civic engagement, and international affairs. Rahman is a Fellow with the American Muslim Civic Leaders Institute at the University of Southern California.

The third member of the panel was Eugene Schneeberg (rhymes with “neighbor”), director of the Center for FBNP for the U.S. Department of Justice. Under his leadership, the Center works to advance the goals of the President’s National Fatherhood & Mentoring Initiative, assists in the coordination of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and serves on the Federal Interagency Reentry Council. Schneeberg, a graduate of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and Boston University, is passionate about his center’s initiatives.

The White House Office of FBNP works with centers at 13 federal agencies to form partnerships between government at all levels and nonprofit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to effectively serve Americans in need. The Center’s primary goals are to: Engage community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based, in building a culture of high expectations and support for education, Develop and support initiatives within the federal government to help maximize the education contributions of community-based organizations, including faith and interfaith organizations, and Strengthen partnerships between community-based organizations and schools to help improve the nation’s lowest-achieving schools.

The three directors were entertaining and informative, displaying their passion for the work their particular center does. Girton-Mitchell told the room of communicators that Directors of FBNP centers would be glad to make appearances similar to the panel discussion for the RCC convention to spread the word about their programs and initiatives if multiple presentations can be arranged to justify the travel expenses – which are limited. Each of the panelists introduced themselves and talked about the initiatives of their particular center, including the links contained in this post.

Peace be with you.

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