State Street ministry guides community children into discipleship

State Street ministry guides community children into discipleship

Confirmands wear handmade stoles that describe themselves and their relationships with Jesus Christ. From left to right: Cheyanna Neal, Maxwell Murph, Raymond Murph, David Stiltner, Zach Gray, and Student Ministries Coordinator Amy Brown.

By Jonathan Jonas

BRISTOL, Va. (Sept. 5, 2019) -- For 15 years now, since 2004, one of State Street United Methodist Church's most exciting and life-changing ministries has been FISH Club (Faithful in Serving Him).

Each Wednesday evening during the school year, the church buses are out in the community to bring economically vulnerable young neighbors to the church building for a nourishing meal, worship, fellowship, learning and other activities. Jaymie Derden, chair of Holston Conference Children’s Ministries Team, was the guiding and driving force behind the growth of this vital ministry.

Over time, as the children grew from elementary age into middle school and high school, FISH Youth became the next age level of the ministry. For the past few years, Amy Brown, our student ministries coordinator (and daughter of the Rev. Steve Brown), has grown the FISH Youth program and procured grant funding for transportation. Through her efforts, FISH Youth attend Resurrection, have a Sunday youth fellowship here at State Street, and most recently, participate in confirmation classes.

In August 2018, we celebrated with the first two young people from our FISH Club and FISH Youth who confirmed their faith in Jesus Christ and became professing members of State Street UMC.

On Aug. 23, we welcomed the confirmation class of 2019, including five young people who professed their faith and committed to follow Jesus as Lord. About 70 people attended the celebration from the FISH Club, FISH youth, and congregation.

The confirmands wore stoles they made to describe themselves and their relationship with Jesus Christ. They also created a banner, which they said symbolizes (1) how many different and unique people come together to form something beautiful in the church, and (2) everyone is invited to step into the circle, symbolized by the circle in the center.

The Rev. Jonathan Jonas is senior pastor at State Street United Methodist Church in Bristol, Virginia.