By: Christa Meland
Two local church youth leaders have recently taken on additional roles as youth ministry co-chairs for the Minnesota Conference.
Catie Levenick, youth and family ministry coordinator at Stewartville UMC, and Sami Tierney, director of youth ministry at Messiah UMC in Plymouth, will organize two high-impact youth events each year that will help young Minnesota United Methodists grow in love of God and neighbor. They also hope to create a network that allows youth leaders to more easily share ideas and best practices.
The women succeed Rev. Erica Koser and Lindsey Nuehring, who have capably and faithfully served as conference youth ministry leaders for the past few years.
“The Event,” a faith-formation event for fifth- through ninth-graders, will continue to take place each fall. The theme of this year’s Nov. 2-4 event at Cragun’s Resort is “You are not a rubber chicken.” (Unlike a rubber chicken, you were created on purpose for a purpose as a child of God!) Registration is now open.
And each spring, a retreat will bring together Confirmation students across the state to explore their unique gifts, their Confirmation promises, and God’s call in their lives.
Levenick and Tierney are committed to making these events fun, impactful, and worthwhile for all churches—those that have dozens of youth and paid staff who work with them, and those with just a few youth who are led by volunteers.
The two are no strangers to working together: They co-lead STORM Camp in Stewartville, through which youth spend a week completing service projects. Both women are passionate about working with youth and helping them explore their faith.
“I just love teenagers,” said Tierney. “I love that they have a world of opportunity and possibility before them. I have an opportunity to make an impact and help them know Jesus and help them feel loved.”
Levenick, who grew up in Elk River UMC and counts STORM Camp as a deeply formational experience in her own life when she was a teen, echoed that sentiment.
“I just love seeing students and the change you get to see in them,” she said. “Some youth I started with in middle school are now in high school. I love seeing them develop as leaders and become who they are in their faith…And if they struggle with something and they want to talk to you about it, that’s a privilege.”
As far as networking, Levenick and Tierney hope to use the conference youth ministry Facebook page as a resource hub for youth leaders in addition to a place to disseminate information about upcoming events and opportunities.
“I have hopes to work on networking and greater opportunity for youth leaders to get to know each other and learn from each other,” said Tierney, who started a youth ministry network in Plymouth. “I see part of our role as helping youth leaders who are burned out or exhausted. I have a heart for those people—helping them understand the importance of their role.”
Levenick and Tierney also hope to plan some events for youth leaders to gather, support one another, and share ideas.
“We’re committed to bringing real content that comes home,” Tierney said.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church