Many organizations say youth are their future, but Ascension Lutheran Church, South Burlington, Vt., puts its money where its mouth is.
Unable to afford its own youth pastor, Ascension teamed up last year with nine other Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist and United Church of Christ congregations to start Ripple, a greater Burlington area youth ministry cooperative.
"If we do not engage our youth and if they are not committed to our life in the church, we do not have a future," said Rachel Stampul, 32, director of Ripple.
"Even the tobacco companies know they have to market to youth," she said with a laugh. "Unfortunately, youth ministry has become largely devalued in our denominations. It's been consistently neglected."
Each church contributes to Stampul's part-time salary, which she anticipates will become full time soon. "When you pool finances and resources, including our youth, you can create a program," she said. "It's often hard for one church to get critical mass with enough kids."
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