October 6, 2016
Victor and Melanie Carreras are new to Galilee. This young couple first attended last summer, after moving to the area and visiting a few different churches. “What impressed us most about Galilee was its down-to-earth and inclusive message,” they say, “its vibrant children’s and youth ministry, and interesting, well-delivered sermons. The first day we came, we felt at home and the following Easter we became members.”
Shortly after they became members of Galilee—predicatably—Victor and Melanie were asked to volunteer.
“Andrew [Hall, former Family Ministry director] asked us to sit in with the Youth Group, much to our delight. Youth Group is a highlight of our week and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it. The youth are creative and fun, and we’re lucky to be learning alongside them!”
Melanie and Victor Carreras help lead Youth Group for middle school and high school students.
Victor grew up in Puerto Rico as the oldest of four siblings and many grandchildren. His passions were the same as many of our Galilee youth—playing video games, wrestling with his cousins, and hanging out with friends. Melanie grew up in the States, raising dairy goats and going sailing with cousins and family on her grandparents’ boat.
“As children and teenagers,” the couple tell us, “we both attended church. But really we attribute our faith to the example of other people; older people. There is nothing like a parent or grandparent demonstrating the love of God to make a person believe in God, and we did.”
“Yet at some point, organized religion lost relevance to us as we felt a conflict between religion and reason. In college, where our studies were so important, church seemed less important.”
Victor went to the University of Puerto Rico and Melanie attended Mars Hill University in North Carolina. Separately, they found their faith challenged. But if you ask them to name a time when God made an impact in their lives, they’ll tell you it was exactly this time—when they met each other. “That was a God thing, probably, because the chances of our paths crossing were so small and yet it happened!
Upon graduation, Victor’s work as a civil engineer took him to the United States. While he was on a project in North Carolina, he met Melanie and the two started dating. A few years later, Victor moved to the DC area and Melanie followed when she graduated. The two married and found themselves, as newlyweds, looking for something they had left behind: a church. “We thought about finding a church home and when we found Galilee, it clicked as a place where there was room to grow with both faith and reason.”
Youth Group meets Sunday at 7pm. It’s the place for students to have fun and encounter real talk about faith matters.
“Galilee offers an authentic and positive message to guide and encourage seekers. The actions of this welcoming congregation speak even louder than words,” say Victor and Melanie, who have found their own voice in helping out with Youth Group.
“The middle and high school years are a time when kids are thinking critically and developing their own beliefs, friendships, faith, and values. Youth Group is a time to come together, have fun, and reflect on what is important. School and life are full of challenges, and Youth Group is a chance to be grounded, encouraged, and ready for the week.”
“The group is thriving this fall, thanks to the volunteers and youth. We’re getting to know each other as we learn together. A typical evening begins by expending energy with outdoor games: kickball, tag, or capture the flag, for example. Then we go inside to watch a video while munching on snacks. We’ve watched Matt Chandler speak about faith and reason, and now we’re watching Francis Chan talk about prayer. These are not simple messages. They are challenging. After the video, we split into boys’ and girls’ groups for thought-provoking discussion, questions, and sharing. We wrap up with group prayer.”
“Thanks to generous volunteers, we have exciting events to look forward to, including a cookout at the Cox house on October 16 and later a weekend retreat. We’ll work on a service project, too. On October 30, we’re packing Galilee donations into UMCOR disaster buckets to help with clean-up after the next major disaster.”
“There’s a lot going on at Youth Group!”
Outside of church, Victor works as a civil engineer and Melanie as a business analyst. When Victor’s not working or studying, he likes to hit the gym, lift weights, and play racket ball with friends. In her free time, Melanie enjoys photography and exercising. Together, they enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, hiking, and watching TV (especially superhero and action/drama shows).
Galilee is thankful for members like Victor and Melanie, who help us ask the right questions about our faith, so that we can fulfill the extraordinary purpose of loving and serving others.