Dear First Pres,

  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:12-13
   "I have learned to be more bold in having conversations with my classmates. Last week I actually had a meaningful conversation with my lab partner when we finished our work. I think this is what it means to be a person of hospitality." Claire (8th Grade)
   "This year I have learned how to ask people good questions. Ya know, the ones that are deeper and not just about surface things." Alex (7th Grade)
   "Church has become a place where I feel a part of a community and connect with God through the music, preaching, and hanging out with friends." Chloe (7th Grade)
   During our last Sunday morning together before the 8th graders transition into Freshmen, students reflected on how God has grown and taught them this year. These statements were profound and challenging. Our youth are learning what is means to find joy in the Lord during all types of situations and how to faithfully pray for God to give them courage to love others well in hospitality. Becoming a person of hospitality continues to be a focal point in Ignite Ministry because life is transitional. Things are inevitably always shifting and moving, end of story. Sometimes it is towards exciting new ventures, yet other seasons are filled with grief, disappointment or fear.
   For our 8th graders, and myself, there is most definitely a bitter sweetness as they move forward to High School. They have grown into more mature young people and are ready for what's next, but the fog of the unknown looms before them causing fear and/or anxiety. Will they be known and loved? This is the question they are seeking to answer.
   Gratefully through much prayer and intentionality, these students have experienced the joy of being known and accepted in a season when they feel vulnerable about their identity. Praise God that they know who God is and who they are in relationship to him! This brings a sense of confidence, allowing them to put themselves out there in reaching towards other people. They are more willing to invite others into their community, whether at school or church because they are not functioning out of insecurity but instead out of the assurance of God's love and grace. They are practicing hospitality in their context!
   Reflecting back on Jr. High, maybe you can remember being that hormonally imbalanced and insecure kid you once were. Well, in all honesty, I can be more like my Jr. High self then I would like to admit: allowing fatigue, busyness, fear or anxiety to keep me from welcoming in new people and drawing people towards deeper relationships when I am lost in insecurities. This is why finding JOY, pursuing PATIENCE and never ceasing in PRAYER is so important. These disciplines draw us to the well of truth: JESUS CHRIST! They remind us of who we are and whose we are, so we may live as people of hospitality more boldly every day, especially in seasons of transition--which as I stated before is all the time!
   Summer Staff are coming soon! As a former Networker, I was drawn into the community of FPC because of the warm reception I received as a summer intern working with youth. We have 6 Summer Staff on-boarding our ministries in June! Be on the lookout for an FPC article introducing them. Find ways to invite them into your homes, lives and hearts; make room for them and see how God may grow you through them. These students are a visible reminder that there are people in our midst who are in need of an invitation to grow deeper in community here at First Pres. As we have the "Connect Time" between services this summer, be intentional about showing up, being open to meaningful conversations, asking good questions and enjoying the significance of our Church community by becoming people of hospitality.

May Our Light Shine,
Meagan Bergem
Director of Junior High Ministries