Here at First United, we value youth as full members of our church family. To engage them in the life of our community we offer opportunities and experiences of worship, fellowship, learning, exploration, connection, and service.
We are gearing up for the program year for our junior high and high school youth groups! After a pandemic year of Youth Ministry, it will be wonderful to be able to meet again in person to do at least some of the things we didn’t get to do over the past year.
Youth group advisors needed. If you have ever considered or are willing to consider being a youth advisor, now is the time! Please contact Alicia Reese, Pastoral Associate of Youth Ministry and Congregational Care ([email protected]). It is a big commitment, but a fun one! Youth group registration (7th-12th grade) can be completed by following this link. You need to register each child individually.
FUJI: First United Junior Highs
All 7th- and 8th-grade youth are invited to join us each Sunday from 5-6:30 p.m. for FUJI. Together we will engage in activities of fellowship, exploration, and self-care that seek to foster connection, nurture meaningful relationships, and provide care in this difficult time. More information about this year’s FUJI is available at this link. For additional information, contact Alicia Reese ([email protected]).
All 9th through 12th graders are invited to join us each Sunday evening from 5-6:30 p.m. for FUSH! Together we will engage in activities of fellowship, exploration, and self-care that seek to foster connection, nurture meaningful relationships, and provide care in this difficult time. This youth group also offers opportunities for youth to gain leadership skills as they assist in the planning and execution of programming through the position of youth moderators and the role of youth board. More information about this year’s FUSH program is available at this link. For more information, contact Alicia Reese ([email protected]).
Given the pandemic and its implications, the church did not offer confirmation class in 2020-21, but Quest for both 9th and 10th graders is now under way. We will always walk this lifelong journey of faith with our youth, and we look forward to venturing on the Quest journey with them this year. Quest is an opportunity to explore your BIG faith questions, experience different kinds of worship, serve others, be challenged by your peers, and learn the importance of an experiential faith. You will have doubts, you will discern what it means to be a disciple, and you will make the important decision whether you want to be a member of this church. Alongside each of our confirmands on this journey is a Friend in Faith, an adult member of the congregation paired with a youth to be a mentor during this process. For information about Quest, the role of a Friend in Faith, to enroll in Quest, or to become a Friend in Faith, contact Alicia Reese ([email protected]).
O.W.L. is a comprehensive sexuality education program that First United offers to 7th and 8th graders at a lock-in in November. O.W.L. offers honest, accurate information about sexuality changes; dismantles stereotypes and assumptions; builds self-acceptance and self-esteem; fosters healthy relationships; improves decision-making; and has the potential to save lives. The program recognizes and respects the diversity of participants with respect to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and disability status. The activities and language have been carefully chosen to be as inclusive as possible of this human diversity. For more information on O.W.L. check out the group’s website or contact Alicia Reese ([email protected]).
While children and youth are always welcome and involved in worship, there is one Sunday a year, in the spring, when our 7th-12th graders run the whole show! They make the decisions, from choosing or playing hymns and music, to telling Bible stories, to leading Time for Sharing for children, to delivering sermons. What will they do next year? Youth Sunday always stretches the imagination to offer the congregation a new way of looking at worship.
Each summer, First United’s youth embark on a trip to learn about and serve in another community. We might be serving at soup kitchens or food pantries, learning about food insecurity, working with folks experiencing homelessness or building homes, or learning about systemic injustices. This is an opportunity that combines fellowship, exploration, and connection through service. Whether you are active in our youth group, you’re a Church School teacher, or neither, we invite you to consider joining us. We are also looking for adult leaders to participate in this trip. If you are an adult in the First United community, called to live out your discipleship through action and service, please consider this opportunity.
Youth Church School Teachers, 10th-12th grade
Senior high youth who have completed Quest are welcome and eligible to teach Church School themselves. Contact Lydia Mulkey, Associate Pastor of Education ([email protected]).
Other Youth Ministry Opportunities
Do you have ideas for other ways we can do youth ministry? To share your thoughts and ideas, contact Alicia Reese ([email protected]).
Two Scout troops meet regularly at First United. Boy Scout Troop 16, a troop for boys in 5th through 12th grades, celebrated 100 years of its continuous church charter in 2016. Troop 16 meets most Friday nights during the school year and camps once a month year-round. Cub Scout Pack 16, for boys in 1st through 5th grades, was chartered by church members in 2014 and meets most Monday nights. As an Open and Affirming congregation, First United highly values the partnership the units have with Scouts for Equality, a national organization founded to advocate for intentionally inclusive Scouting in all forms, including LGBTQ, faith choice, nationality, or financial resources. We believe in Scouting for all! More information about both troops is available online: Scout Troop 16 (troop16oakpark.com) and Cub Scout Pack 16 (pack16oakpark.org/).