Dear Otterbein Parents, youth, and friends (this is a long note, take some time to read it. Information about the summer is at the end).
To everyone involved with our Youth Group in a variety of capacities: I’d first off like to say THANK YOU. The few years I have spent along side of you or your teens has been incredible. I cherish every blessing we have shared at Otterbein!
On March 11, Dylan and I shared with the group that this will be our last season with the Youth Group and Youth Band at Otterbein. June 10th is my last Youth Group. We are very sad for the goodbyes to come in the next few months, but we are happy to enjoy our remaining time together!
In November, I was offered the opportunity by the Susquehanna Conference to transition from a Youth Director to a Church Planter in Dillsburg, PA. The conference runs all UMC churches in Central, PA and part of their job is discovering areas where new places of worship can be established for people who don’t know Jesus. This initiative is called the Matthew 28 Initiative. Matthew 28 is where Jesus commands all of His followers to GO into the world, proclaiming His good news. My new role is a part of this mission initiative.
At Youth Group over the past (almost) 3 years, I have taught our students this Matthew 28 commission that we all have. I suppose God’s sense of humor is that He is opening the door for Dylan and I to “practice what we preach” so to say! Otterbein has been a wonderful church home for the past few years. We grew so much in our friendships and faith here. At Otterbein, I gained the courage to pursue ministry full-time and the encouragement from people here filled me with an excitement to serve God in big ways. This opportunity was not at all something I sought out. It came completely as a surprise from God. Over the past 5 months, I have been praying and seeking a lot of counsel about this job…wondering if God was truly calling me to church planting and “Why?” “Why now, God?” But He has been faithful and very consistent with me. A lot of doors were miraculously opened, doors I never knew where there. Dylan and I have felt confirmation in many ways that YES this is where God is leading us, and this is the time for positive change.
I feel 100% certain that my stepping out of Otterbein is also God opening the door for someone new to step in and minister to these teens in fresh, exciting ways. I am so excited for everything Jesus has done in our students’ lives and I am even more excited for the work He will continue to do. My stepping out of Otterbein will have absolutely no hindrance on what God can and will do in their lives!
God’s timing is perfect, even though it feels hard when we walk through seasons of change. His timing is perfect, and His ways are always better than our own. I hope and pray that seeing us move on to a new chapter of starting a new church serves as a very hopeful, encouraging legacy of faith for Otterbein. The Lord used Otterbein in so many ways to prepare us for this next step, we treasure deeply that we called Otterbein home for the past few years.
In the next few months, we will be committing to prayer the future of Otterbein’s youth ministry. We will be praying for the next leader. That God prepares our hearts for this person and that God prepares this person’s heart for Otterbein. I am meeting with friends in ministry who I feel would be perfect fits for our group, and as much as I am able to—I will recommend people I respect, love, and trust to this job. We hope to help the transition to the next leader be smooth, timely, and God-honoring. We also ask for your prayers as we prepare for a new chapter God is writing for us. He is writing a special, new chapter for the youth group, too. He has great things in store.
I know it is sad to say goodbye to people in ministry you have grown close to. Journeying through faith is joyful but it does come with growing pains. These students belong to God and He has plans for them that far outweigh the plans I’d like to have for them. They belong to Him. He is gracing us every day for the changes ahead, and He will grace us for the transitions to be positive.
Thank you for everything, Otterbein. I feel overwhelmingly blessed by the love and support Dylan and I received here. We are so grateful that God brought our paths together for a sweet season. You are all in my prayers! These next few months together will be filled with a lot of joy and memories to make. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21
In the meantime…….
Youth Group is STILL NORMAL! We are still going to do our usual, fun, wacky weekly traditions! No moping or weeping will take place of the laughter and #otterbonding we enjoy together! Because of my transition, I will not be leading a Youth Group summer mission trip. The Hackmans, however, are taking a group to KY in June. There are a few spots left and your teens are invited to go along. Let us know ASAP if your teens wants details!! If your teen would like to attend the Salt n’ Light York Mission Trip with another youth group, I can arrange for that and would be happy to do so.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. I will be setting times to meet with members of the YG in small groups over the next few weeks to debrief and pick their brains about Youth Group things. Thank you in advance for your prayers and patience.