St. Johns Youth History
When Pastor Fitzpatric came to St. John’s in October 1969, he began working to revive the Luther League. The group began with some recreational activities and a retreat at Dillon Dam with Pastor Fitzpatric as chaperone. Along with this he instituted bible study sessions.
After his departure and the arrival of Pastor Bill Villaume the Luther League continued to grow. Under the leadership of Pastor Bill and youth advisors, Dave and Ellen Phillips, the group tried many new activities and service projects. Included in these were dramatic presentations as part of church services, trash pick-ups along the roadway, and in 1972 a walk-a-thon to raise money for homes in India. Retreats were a time all youth looked forward to for fun and learning. During this time the youth began serving breakfast to the congregation on Easter morning. This tradition was to continue for years to come.
After Pastor Villaume left St. John’s in 1974, Pastor Paul Hansen took over with gusto and enthusiasm. The Luther League continued many activities and added new ones. During Pastor Paul’s first year, music and his guitar were very instrumental to the youth. The group put together a show based on parables in the bible and brought music and fun to many church groups in our area. The Good Friday tradition of carrying the cross from the Newark square to St. John’s church was started during this time. John and Donna Orben served as youth advisors.
In 1980 the church hired Tom Franks as Youth Director. With Pastor Paul and Tom working together the youth program took off. Confirmation classes grew from 5 in 1981 to 10-12 in a few years. During the 1980’s the youth group had many wonderful retreats at places such as Geneva Hills, Camp O’Bannon and Camp A-Gape. One of the great projects of this time was the youth’s trip to Colorado for the National Christian Youth Convention. Youth and their parents working together raised over $7500 for the trip.
The 80’s also brought new service projects for our youth. Several times they visited Washington D.C. to help prepare and serve food to the homeless. They conducted an Adopt-a-Grandparent program, visiting elderly people at a senior citizen complex in Newark. Also they helped plan Halloween and Christmas parties for the children of the church. Many new recreational activities also were popular in our church during this shopping was also a favorite activity with all the youth spending a day at the mall, buying for families and enjoying fellowship. A basketball night at a local school was offered with many youth and parents attending. A favorite summer activity was the annual trip to Kings Island Amusement Park. The 80’s were a time of growth and learning for our youth.
1989 In March St. John’s Youth served lunch to the annual Heisey Show at Starlight School as a fund raiser. + Fourth to 6th graders enjoyed horseback riding, swimming, chuck wagon barbeque and a hayride at Faith Horse Ranch in Cadiz, OH. + Tom Franks was honored for his 10-year leadership of the youth of St. John’s. + The youth sold coffee, juice and donuts between the services as an ongoing fund raiser. + They also hosted a spaghetti dinner in September followed by a sharing time with the senior citizens of the church after the dinner. + The youth requested to be involved in the 4th Sunday service as ushers, greeters, acolytes and lectors; also to do temple talks to keep the congregation updated on their activities.
1990 The youth sponsored a spaghetti dinner after the services on the third Sunday as a fundraiser for their trip to Washington DC. + Fifteen teenagers and 5 adults made the annual trek to Washington DC to learn about ministering to the homeless with Christian compassion. + In the fall they served a monthly meal at Faith Mission in Columbus.
1991 Seventeen youth with 4 adults journeyed to Loudenville for a day of canoeing and tubing in June. + The Fall Rally (including Confirmation and Luther League members) was held at Wild Bill’s Campground near Dillon Lake featuring volley ball, water skiing, tubing, swimming, wiener roast and fall planning. + Goumas candy bar sales raised funds to buy Christmas gifts for the children of 16 residents of Spencer House. + The youth are assisting in feeding the homeless at Faith Mission. + The Senior High Youth attended an outing at Faith Ranch in Cadiz, Ohio, participating in a hayride, outdoor picnic, chuck wagon lunch, and horseback riding in the chilling December air.
1992 Funds were donated by a member to purchase 12 youth bibles. They were used by the senior high class on Sunday mornings to discuss God’s teachings about anger, sex, popularity, prayer, parents, friendships, forgiveness, Why is there suffering?, What happens when you die?, Can you pray for help on a test?, Is suicide a sin? etc. Members were encouraged to learn the first names of our teens, speak to them and tell them how glad you are they come to church, congratulate their parents who have done a wonderful job of planting the seeds and may not see the fruits of their labors. Pastor Paul and Ron Redman considered it both a privilege as well as a challenge to minister to these young people. + The Junior High confirmation class enjoyed a Friday night in March roller skating, making pizza in the church basement, and acolyte races down the sanctuary aisle with a balloon between their knees. Then they spent the night sleeping in the sanctuary. It was reported that angels tucked them in. + Repair and redecorating work was performed on the House. + The youth made a trip to Cedar Point in June, spending the night at a Lutheran church in Sandusky before returning to Newark.
1993 An overnight retreat for the youth was held at Camp O’Bannon in January. They had an insightful bible study and discussion on Christian relationships, played games, performed skits, ate lots of food, roasted marshmallows and took walks. + St. John’s Youth joined the Salvation Army in feeding needy people on the square in cold snowy weather. + In March the Youth took orders for the sale of mulch as a fund raiser. + A parent/teen dialogue night was facilitated by Dr. Jay Hurles from the Christian Counseling Center. Teens brought up topics they wanted to discuss with parents or adults in general. + In April the confirmation class and parents met with Paddy Kutz, Director of the Mental Health Association for her dynamic presentation on what constitutes good mental health and effective listening techniques. Continuing sessions focused on discussing teen issues faced in todays world and keeping teen/parent lines of communication open. + Twenty-one youth and 5 adults participated in a fun trip to Cedar Point on June 12th. + Fundraisers were held for Jeremy Comisford, a member of St. John’s Youth Group and a Junior at Newark High School, who is in need of a bone marrow transplant. His insurance will cover his part of the transplant, but not the expenses of the donor. + A haunted forest was sponsored by our Youth and their leaders at the 3-Church Farm with proceeds going to Jeremy’s bone marrow transplant expenses.
1994 Our youth has been staffing the rest stops on I-70 offering weary travelers refreshments as a fund raiser. They held a 24 hour prayer vigil for their friend and fellow member Jeremy Comisford in regard to his bone marrow transplant. Sixteen teens and 5 adults traveled to Homestead, Florida during spring break to help with the rebuilding process after hurricane damage. In July they attended the AALC Youth Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. After that and a weekend retreat, Youth Advisor, Ron Redman said, “They want to be servants; they are hungry for the Lord”. In October our youth participated with other church youth to raise funds at a Haunted Forrest at the 3-Church Farm for RSVP – Responsible Sexual Values Program in our junior high schools. Four of our youth were confirmed on Mother’s Day. In August they traveled to Kings Island for a day of fun. In December the youth used bake sales to raise funds to buy Christmas gifts for the children of Spencer House residents.
1995 The Youth of St. John’s attended a regional Lutheran Youth Encounter in Cincinnati in February. A concert of song and testimony was given in St. John’s sanctuary by Captive Free in April. All 16 junior high youth in confirmation class passed their exam given by Pastor Paul at the French Market in Columbus on a Sunday afternoon. Our senior high youth held a special time of remembering their friend and classmate, Jeremy Comisford, who died of leukemia a year ago at Cleveland Clinic. The teens and their faithful companions (the adults that got roped into the project) held a car wash in May to raise more funds for their trip to the Christian Youth Conference in Estes Park, Colorado in July. Using funds from last fall’s Haunted Forest fund raiser, the teens camped out at the 3-Church Farm on a Friday night in May and spent Saturday installing a volleyball court, horseshoe courts and a baseball field. In July 9 teens and 3 adults attended the AALC Youth Conference in Estes Park, Colorado where they were confronted with Christ’s challenge to build their house on “the Rock”.
1996 Youth had a February bake sale to raise funds for the Youth Congress in Columbus in March. The balance of funds were taken from the Youth Savings account and from the budget. Also planning to attend “Muskie Fest” at Muskingum College and Carmen Concert in Cleveland. Some of the youth are preparing skits of comedy and drama for Parent meetings and other events. Parent meetings are held monthly to provide guidance and support in parenting. + St. John’s Youth hosted a concert on the hill. + In October a group of 15 youth and 5 adults traveled to Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington DC. While there they fed homeless women, cleaned the church, went sightseeing and participated in a worship service. + The Youth and their chaperones baked cookies for a the youth fund as they participated in a lock-in in November.
1997 Jr. High students and sponsors traveled to Cincinnati to attend the Lutheran Youth Encounter weekend called “Youth Quake” in January. + Some youth attended the following events: the Al Denson concert at Adena Hall on the OSU/COTC campus in March; also the Youth Congress, a Lutheran Youth Encounter event, in Cincinnati; again sponsored the Easter breakfast as a fundraiser; a day long Christian Life & Witness class at Fulton School; “Muskie Fest”, a sponsored fellowship for Christian students at Muskingum College. + The Youth sold donuts on the 4th Sunday of the month (Donut Sunday) between services as a fundraiser for their National Youth Convention in Estes Park, Colorado. + The 5 Alive Team Ministry made up of 2 adults and 3 teens for both Jr. & Sr. High, in charge of planning and implementation of our ongoing teen ministry.
Fourteen youth and 5 adult advisors traveled to the AALC National Youth Convention in Estes Park, Colorado in July. The group raised funds through a car wash, donations, “begging for bucks” in front of local banks, doughnut sales and other activities. They camped along the way. They experienced pouring down rain in Kansas, the awesomeness of the mountains, a snowball fight in July and 107 degrees in the valley. They began each day with worship, heard the witness of personal Christian stories, and were lifted up by Christian music. They participated in a day of community outreach doing skits in a park, helping store owners wash windows and helping as needed, gave out bibles, and suckers with a message attached. One of St. John’s youth, Amanda English was given a big send-off as she committed one year to serving with the Youth Encounter National Band Ministry “Captive Free”, a contemporary relational music ministry that shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ with young people through music, puppetry and sing-a-longs.
1998 A bonfire was held at the home of Cheri Weber for the youth. A potluck dinner and a concert by “Captive Free” was held in May. Captive Free is a musical ministry team sponsored by Youth Encounter. They present interactive programs about the Gospel of Jesus Christ using music, personal testimony, puppet shows and drama. Our own Amanda English joined the group last year. + Confirmands spent time with their adopted grandparents at Goosepond Village and learned how to listen with love. Then they introduced their “grandparent” to the group.
1999 A note was received from Amanda English describing some of her experience with Captive Free and thanking God, her dad, and all those who made this possible. Nine of St. John’s teens attended the Muskie Fest week end at Muskingum College enjoying workshops, concerts and speakers offered by Christian college students. Fundraising begins for our youth to attend the National Youth Convention in Colorado. They sold Pizza Hut cards and again sponsored the Easter breakfast. AAL is matching funds accordingly. + Plans to set aside one of the teen center classrooms each afternoon to show a video focusing on teen issues followed by discussion led by a trained volunteer. + A car wash was held in June as a fundraiser. + The Youth thanked Mrs. Gardner for allowing them to sell food at her store as a fundraiser on Memorial Day weekend. + The confirmation class was taken on a trip to Cedar Point. + A “Lock-in” was held in the house for the Jr. & Sr. High Youth on Saturday, November 6th as part of the weekend visit by “Captive Free”.
2000 The teen center opened in September 2000. It provides supervised homework time, tutoring, sports, computer training, leadership training, counseling and more. + Junior and senior youth traveled to Cedar Point in July. + Shannon Duston and his worship team from Savannah, GA held a mini conference for high school and college students about a real and living God called “Refreshing Passion & Fire” on July 14th & 15th. + Brian Free, who formerly entertained with “Gold City” and the Gaither Band, and who now ministers as a solo artist was the first to hold a concert in our new fellowship hall in December.
2001 The after school program for teens continued to grow thanks to staff Co-coordinators Jeannie Marietta and Jamie Bogden with counselors-in-training Nicole Comisford and Mandy Hiles. Their goal is “to make the center a warm and secure, loving and learning environment, as well as a fun experience for teens while wrapped in the arms of God’s great guidance and wisdom.” Sports and classes are offered: table tennis, kick boxing, basketball, volleyball, tai bo, sewing, guitar, ceramics/art, line dancing, cheer leading and more. The gym and computer lab are open with supervision every day and tutoring is available. College students volunteer their time, Christian witness and special talents. Teen discussion with Pastor Paul is every Thursday and draws 20 to 25 kids each week. They focus on surviving tragedies, change, respecting authority. All youth are required to choose an asset to develop or improve including honesty, accountability, acceptance, sensitivity to others, responsibility with homework, cooperation.
More than 20 Teen Bibles have been given to those who wanted their own bible. + The teens help set up for the Chicken Noodle dinner fundraiser on the 2nd Friday of each month. This dinner averages $300 to $400 toward teen center expenses. Many have learned to make homemade noodles through this program. +
Activities at the teen center consist of “Teen Talks” with Pastor Paul, supervised homework time, table tennis, basketball, open gymn, ceramics, guitar lessons….
2002 Activities of the Linnville Lighthouse Teen Center include: Midieval Day, Build a Computer Day, Leather Working Day, Community Service Day, a week of High Adventure Camp, Native American Dream Catchers, Ceramics, a week of Carpentry Camp, an arrowheads clinic, Native American Music Day, helping with the community dinner.
Written by one of our teens: “I had lots of fun this summer! I did lots of camps with all my friends. I went to cooking camp, high adventure camp, and lots of other ones. At cooking camp I learned to make lots of new things I never made before. At high adventure camp I learned to face my fears and to try new things. At carpentry camp I learned how to build a picnic bench and table. But most of all I learned patience, friendship, trust and support and lots of other stuff.”
Notes from a “letter from the Teen Center”: Staff thanks family of St. John’s for donations and for being the heart that keeps the Teen Center alive and beating + Noted were grants from LC Grant Making Council for $1000, Park National Bank - $600, Ambassador Title - $500, Bank One - $100, Heath Lions Club - $600. + Staff and Students will take over responsibilities of monthly Community Dinner fundraisers. Thanks to Bonnie and her staff for all former time and energy devoted to this project. $300 to $400 a month is earned for center expenses. + Fall plans included tutoring/homework, basketball, line dancing, ceramics, guitar, fencing, volleyball, soccer, speakers on eating disorders and teen suicide, teen abstinence and pregnancy prevention, economics/everyday living and the Christmas Auction fundraiser.