Extraordinary Peers

May 24, 2018

They say don’t look back, but Galilee wants to repeat something great. That is to create strong peer groups for our young people, both boys and girls. A visit from a young woman like Rachel Myers, who was part of the 2011 Galilee High School Girls group, reminds us that positive peer groups are important. 

Rachel just graduated from Virginia Tech and will soon begin an internship with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). She spoke to us about the group that prepared her for the challenges she faced at college and beyond.

Rachel Myers (bottom left) has been active in campus ministry, even visiting a university in Puerto Rico.

“The High School Girls small group was a formative experience,” answers Rachel. “It was my beloved community throughout high school. These women have been family ever since. We stay close, even if we don’t eat together every week like we used to. We have an ongoing Facebook group where we catch up and post prayer requests. Our group leader, Kathy Butler, has a servant’s heart. Not only did she open up her home and cook for us, but she is still there for me when I need her.”

As a new graduate, it is time for Rachel to be there for others. When she reports to her assignment with Cru, she’ll be an intern for the southwest Pennsylvania region.

“I’ll work with students at three different colleges (Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Saint Francis University, and Penn Heights). I will be the only female on my team, so it is my job to reach the young women on campus. I will share the Gospel and help equip, encourage, and challenge students in their walk with Christ. I’ll do this through mentoring, leading bible studies, and planning retreats and outreaches.”

Friends help make faith.

Rachel has been meeting with Galilee leaders to pick their brains on what makes good ministry. She had lunch with Kathy Butler, Galilee’s Business Manager, who started the High School Girls group with Heather Cox.

“The girls group began meeting in 2011 and continued until August 2016,” Kathy remembers. “Heather and I led the group; Mary Lacy Grecco became another leader after she graduated from UVA.  Among the attendees were Mary Kate Appel, Leslie Campbell, Shannon Daily, Madeline Emery, Olivia Emery, Nicole Frank, Kitty Green, Rachel Myers, Maddie and Olivia Shah, Maggie Kingora, Katie Myers, and Farah Haidari.”

Members of the High School Girls Group, including Rachel (right) and Kathy Butler (third from right).

“We ate dinner and talked about what was going on in the girls’ lives. When we first started, we tried to do book studies…but that wasn’t what the girls needed. They needed a place to talk about issues they were encountering in their real lives and to examine these from a Christian perspective. At first they looked to leaders for advice, but quickly we found that the girls were the ones giving advice to each other. Good advice. The adults were there to ensure that the discussion didn’t go completely off the rails!”

“These Galilee girls attended different high schools. Since they didn’t share peers at school, they could talk about issues with some anonymity. They were able to bring up their faith, their fears, and their problems…not something they could do in all settings. It was helpful to have adults who weren’t their parents (a girl doesn’t want to talk to her parents about EVERYTHING).”

“It was awesome for the adults, too. None of us had daughters. We enjoyed having “girl-time” with these fabulous young ladies, who we might not otherwise have known. They made us think along different angles and consider how we judge them when looking at them through our personal prisms. Honestly, some of the girls had deeper faith than we did as leaders! It was humbling, and I think it made us all step up our game. We just LOVED those girls!”

Rachel is also meeting with our Family Ministry team of Pam Bentley and Bri Jones. They’re talking about how to maintain connection between Galilee and our young adults who are moving out into the wider world. It starts with ensuring that the students coming through Galilee have positive peer groups. 

Pam says, “This summer, we’re kicking off a program called Girls Nights and Guys Nights. For three nights this summer (to begin with), we’re going to break our youth group down by age and gender. It’s a chance to spend time together without a specific agenda, to strengthen friendships within each age bracket.”
 
Galilee is blessed with an awesome team of adult volunteers to lead these groups on June 18, July 24, and August 15:  
  • High School Girls (rising 9-12) – 6:30-8:30 pm – Meet at Kathi Miller’s house for dinner  
  • Middle School Girls (rising 6-8) – 6:30 -7:30 pm – Meet at Sweet Frog Countryside Regal Plaza 
  • Middle and High School Guys (rising 6-12) – 6:30-8:30 pm – Meet at Galilee for Open Gym 
Our hope is that as many kids as possible come out for these summer nights, regardless of whether they have been active in church before. They are welcome to bring friends.
 
Church is strengthened by the relationships we have with one another, just as individuals are strengthened by the support we receive. These summer nights are an opportunity for our youth to grow with their peers and the adults who mentor them. Through these connections, we have a chance to influence the faith and future of the next generation.  
 
It worked for Rachel: “I met my closest friends at the small group,” she says, “and we pointed each other towards Christ.”
 
 
For more information about Girls/Guys Nights contact: pam.bentley@galileeumc.org