Education & Youth

Education & Youth Team 2020 Annual Report

The Education & Youth Team began 2020 with hopes of capitalizing on the momentum that grew during 2019, and started the year off strong in January and February. Unfortunately, most ministries came to a halt in March with the suspension of in-person gatherings. Through necessity came adaption and creativity and while it was not quite the ministry we had initially envisioned, we were able to provide several great opportunities for both Christian education and community connection to our children, youth, and families throughout the remainder of the year. 

Unrelated to the pandemic were changes to the leadership of our team. After years of faithful service Steph Groff and Suzie Zeidler have stepped away to focus on new adventures. We are grateful for their contributions. While neither will be able to be replaced, we are coming up with a plan to fill their vacancies in 2021. Even though our ministries were forced to change in significant ways, once again we ended the year with the momentum of well-received ministry opportunities. We look forward to 2021 and the new opportunities we will have to continue our ministry with children, youth, and their families.

Pink Fluffy Unicorns is our midweek ministry for 3rd – 6th grade students providing a mix of service and fellowship opportunities.

Children’s Ministry

The beginning of 2020 found us with Sunday School in full swing with regular attendance of kids averaging around 25 per Sunday. We were holding an All Kids event once per month with all grades meeting together in a more hands on curriculum. We were also holding Little Lambs (for 0-3 year olds) once a month with regular attendance of on average 4 students.

Early in the year, we continued Pink Fluffy Unicorn activities for the older elementary children, with several students attending Winter Camp at Pine Lake for a weekend in January, participation in our own version of ‘Nailed It’ in February, and participation in Service & Shenanigans in February (volunteering at Feeding America followed by laser tag fun).

When in-person attendance was suspended due to Covid 19, we had to switch gears in order to try to still reach out to our families but not overwhelm them with so many changes at once.

We had the annual Easter Egg Hunt scheduled for Palm Sunday. That turned into an egg and treat drop off for all of our Sunday School and Confirmation aged families.

At the end of the school year, in place of our ice cream social event, we did another great bag drop off which included a Culver’s token for a free scoop. We also dropped off a devotional gift for all of the High School seniors in our congregation.

The team worked hard over the summer to try to figure out what our plan for ministry would be going forward. This was no easy task given the ongoing pandemic and all of the uncertainty it brings. Two plans were created for the 2020-2021 Sunday School year. The first being a plan that would be exclusively from home with family, by adopting Sparkhouse’s digital curriculum Faith at Home. The second plan was scheduled to be used if/when we were able to transition back to in person gatherings. This is a family based curriculum where family units would continue to participate all together.

Before the start of the school year we dropped off a binder with the Faith at Home curriculum and some treats for the students. We also dropped off Bibles for our incoming 4K, 3rd grade and 7th grade students.

The school year once again kicked off with “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday. The education team helped to organize a few of the outdoor stations for people to volunteer at including jump rope making and a Habitat for Humanity restore project.

Drew, along with the help of the confirmation aged youth, started a pen pal program between the youth and our Sunday School families. This has been a great way to connect the kids both young and older.

In October we hosted a Trunk or Treat event outside at GSLC. We had 11 trunks decorated and safely spaced out so that families could enjoy time outside together. We had great reception of this event and plan to hold it again next year.

In December we hosted an Outside Tree Decorating Event. Families made natural decorations at home and then used them to beautify our campus and feed our feathered friends. In addition, we had another round of at-home deliveries to end the year, providing Advent calendars and activities as well as treats for all of our Sunday School families. We also asked families in our congregation to share pictures of their Nativities at home to be posted on our social media page.

This year has certainly held plenty of challenges, but has also pushed us to consider other options for how God’s Work can still be done in our community and with our families.

Youth Ministry

We began 2020 with a hopeful plan to build on the excitement of the previous year. In January, several youth attended Winter Camp at Pine Lake for a weekend, and in February youth participated in Service & Shenanigans – spending an afternoon volunteering at Feeding America followed by fun at Badger Sports Park. Plans were in place to continue such opportunities over spring break, as well as increasing the opportunities over the summer for ministry and fellowship. However, given the state of the pandemic, these service opportunities over spring break and throughout the summer were cancelled. However, in July we began Backyard Bible studies, which met at the church, and backyards of 4 youth families. Each Wednesday an average of 6 youth and several adults met to play games, study scripture, and pray for each other. This was a bright spot in a year that saw so many things cancelled.

Another positive from the year came in February, as the Youth auction was moved earlier in the year (February 23) to avoid other important spring events of our congregation. We increased our donations from outside of the congregation and received donations from youth families for much of the food. These changes had a positive effect as we were able to raise $3800 for our youth.

Confirmation ministry felt a great impact from the pandemic/quarantine practices. The few classes that remained after Easter were cancelled. Crossways cancelled all summer programming which meant no confirmation camp. And, although the 9th grade class was able to have their retreat at Imago Dei Village the first weekend in February, they have yet to affirm their baptism in worship. At the beginning of summer, we hoped that a service in our sanctuary could happen by the time school began. As fall turned into winter we still hadn’t been able to confirm our (now) 10th grade class. Several options are being explored for 2021, but we feel so much has been lost that we don’t want to alter the service any more than necessary. This fall all confirmation classes were held online using ZOOM. It hasn’t been ideal, but we ended 2020 with a fun Christmas party and hope for small groups to begin gathering in person at church in 2021. 

Although it wasn’t the ministry we planned and hoped for, God has been present in the lives of our youth. We continue to seek new ways to connect our youth to Jesus and each other, and nothing will keep us from the excitement over all that God has prepared for us in 2021. 

In Christ,

The Education & Youth Team of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Tarra Gallagher, Hallie Langenhorst, and Drew Swanson

Education and Youth Team Responsibilities

The Education and Youth Team shall be comprised of one at-large member of the Congregation Council, the youth director, the Sunday school coordinator, and as many members of the congregation as the team chooses; consisting of both adults and youth members. (A separate Youth Team may be formed to plan, coordinate, and implement youth activities; that team would function as a subsidiary of the Education and Youth Team, with representation from the Youth Team serving on the Education and Youth Team.) Each year after a Congregation Council representative has been assigned, the team shall elect a chairperson and a recorder from its membership. The Congregation Council representative will report from the Congregation Council any action that this team needs to take, and report to the Congregation Council on behalf of this team. The team shall meet regularly – monthly meetings are suggested.

The responsibilities and duties of the Education and Youth Team include, but are not limited to:

1. Plan and implement Christian education programming, including infant/preschool education, Sunday school, vacation bible school, post-confirmation youth education, and adult education

2. Plan and implement a confirmation program in collaboration with the youth director and the pastor.

3. Plan and implement communion instruction in collaboration with the pastor.

4. Plan and conduct special events (Sunday school Christmas program, gifting of Bibles, welcome to Sunday school, rally day, etc.).

5. Enlist, train, and supervise those who volunteer to serve as teachers and guides.

6. Plan and implement activities for youth in collaboration with the youth director, such as those focused on fellowship, service, learning, and collaborating with youth from other congregations.

7. Promote camping ministry opportunities offered through Crossways Camping Ministries.

8. Plan and implement teacher and student recognition events.

9. Prepare and submit a budget request to the Executive Committee for anticipated education and youth expenses annually.

10. Oversee disbursement of the annual Education and Youth Team budget.