Up Close and Personal with Monica Mainwaring
Tell us about yourself and your connection to youth ministry.
I am the pastoral assistant at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, and one of the ministries I oversee is the youth ministry. I have enjoyed working with youth for a number of years in a variety of contexts: in a houseboat church camp, at a number of churches, on cross-cultural mission trips, at schools, and now in this diocese and in my parish. I began collaborating with others in the diocese in the fall, when I was new to Good Samaritan and wondered what parishes nearby were doing that was working well to serve youth. From initial conversations, the Youth Collaborative was born.
What drew you to working with youth?
Youth are full of life, and youth have sincere questions, an honest curiosity…this is what draws me to working with youth now. I began my ministerial career in youth ministry because I had incredible youth mentors when I was a teen, and they deeply influenced my spiritual formation; it was natural for me to offer that to youth. And, because I like to play, I still identify with youth!
How do you view youth ministry?
Youth ministry, I believe, is entirely relational. Relationships are at the core of every messy game night and cross-border mission trip. We form relationships with youth, and hope to share that life-giving relationship we find in Christ. My youth pastor continues to write and teach on the topic of “it takes a village.” His theory is that every youth needs at least five positive influences/mentors in their lives, other than their parents, to participate in spiritual/character/personal formation. I agree. It has been my experienced that teens in our culture thrive when they hear sincerely “you are loved” from a number of different directions.
Tell us about your youth program.
At Good Samaritan we have monthly game nights, occasional service opportunities, and weekly discipleship opportunities; also, we have youth that sing with our music group, serve as acolytes, and initiate outreach. This church is very much a family, and multi-generational opportunities abound. The youth built a house in Mexico this winter alongside Good Sam folk who were 5 and 85!
What are the best parts of youth ministry? The biggest challenges?
Three of our youth were confirmed yesterday, after a ten-week confirmation course that was a sort of experiential variation on the material in My Faith, My Life (Jennifer Gamber). For the three young women involved, it was an enriching personalized journey toward their commitment to the church and their reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows.
The biggest challenge right now in our youth ministry program is scheduling. Youth are busy people and finding a good time for all to meet is difficult. We vary our offerings a bit and hope that the Youth Collaborative’s bringing together many opportunities from the youth ministries of parishes throughout the diocese might mean that if youth cannot make it to one event, there is still another time they can meet for fellowship, service, play, and growth.
Anything else you would like to share?
If you are not on the Youth Collaborative’s contact list, please contact the YC’s administrator, Charlette Preslar, at DRE@christchurchcoronado.org to connect and share and benefit from collaboration in youth ministry.