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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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April 27, 2006

The young shall lead them

Youths may not rule, but they do sometimes lead at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Edon, Ohio.

The 400-member congregation in the extreme northwestern corner of the state calls upon its teens every fifth Sunday of the month, labeled appropriately “Youth Sunday,” to assist in worship. Their Sunday came a week early on April 23, giving the Rev. Clayton J. Bailey a break after a busy Holy Week.

The youth weren’t just called forward occasionally to do special, limited things. Instead, they led the service, from start to sermon to finish: confession and forgiveness, John Michael; apostolic greeting and prayer of the day, Beth Wiler; special violin music, Spencer Kaiser; readings, Nick Kaiser, Chelsea Willitzer, Chris Gearhart; sermon, Stephanie Kaiser; Nicene Creed, Breanna Bundy; benediction, Garrett Whitney; dismissal, Ryan Becker.

And not to be overlooked were acolytes Ashtin Miller and Allison Towne, plus teen ushers and communion servers.

All of it done under the direction of Pastor Bailey.

And it worked, including the sermon. Stephanie Kaiser used the text on the doubt of Thomas and looked at how individuals today face periods of doubt throughout the various stages of aging. She tied the Gospel lesson with those of modern life in a practical, Christ-focused way. Her prepared text featured a beginning, middle and end, complete with theology. She has promise.

And so do the rest of the youth at St. Peter’s, and the congregation itself. Youth aren’t peripheral to the church—they are part its foundation. It is something those teens in rural Ohio will certainly remember years from now.

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