Celebrate youth ministry

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By Special to the Monitor

On Tuesday, The United Church of Los Alamos is hosting a celebration of youth ministry in the community.

Two organizations will be acknowledged for their long-term impact on the youth of Los Alamos. Ryan Gilbert will represent Young Life Los Alamos and Winston and Mary Marugg will be there to represent Sonlight Christian Camp.

Young Life has been active in Los Alamos for more than 20 years, providing an exciting opportunity for the youth to learn and grow with a dedicated team of youth ministry leaders who relate very well to a broad spectrum of youth, including those on the fringe as well as those who are mature in their faith.

 The Young Life leaders love kids and earn the right to be heard, sharing the hope that Christ offers. Young Life partners with area churches, promoting the role of broader communities of faith as an extension of their ministry.

Relational ministry benefits greatly from stable leadership. For the past 20 years of ministry in Los Alamos (and the surrounding communities), two full-time area directors have provided this stability. Mark and Peggy Henjum led the ministry from 1988 to 1998.

Ryan and Amy Gilbert have enthusiastically continued this work since 1998. Throughout the years, there has been a strong team of leaders and volunteers and strong community support to sustain the ministry.

Sonlight Christian Camp near Pagosa Springs, Colo., has been functioning for 30 years, and has provided a “home away from home” for a generation of youth of Los Alamos. Founded (and still managed) by the Maruggs, Sonlight provides a breath-taking setting for retreat, fellowship, growth and fun.

Hundreds of youth in the community have grown up with annual trips to Sonlight, and many later hired on as staff in their adulthood, becoming a part of the ministry team.

Sonlight is designed and run as an extravagantly welcoming place, allowing campers to play in unique ways, and learn more about themselves and their faith in the process.

Sonlight is what some call a “thin place” – a setting where one feels much closer to God.

On Tuesday, the festivities will start at 5 p.m. with an informal panel discussion intended for area youth workers (but open to anyone interested in youth ministry).

The discussion will focus on keys to successful and sustainable youth ministry.

Following a dinner, there will be overview presentations on both ministries, and a time to share memories by those present as well as those who will provide memories by e-mail.

 There is no charge for this event. Please contact The United Church office at 662-6971 to register attendance for meal-planning purposes.