Kelsey Keefe is an adult mentor with the YES Senior High class. Read about how her faith journey has led her to youth ministry.
From a young age, I continually sought a closer relationship with God, though I didn't have the language to put words to it at the time. I eagerly went through Confirmation class in sixth grade in hopes that I would find what I was searching for. It was a starting point, but it still left me a bit disappointed. As a teen, I yearned for a youth group I could connect with, and out of the absence of connection, I stopped attending entirely by high school.
I was excited to attend college for many reasons, and the prospect of choosing my own church was near the top of that list. I had become disenchanted with my family's parish during high school and was looking for a fresh start. During the next 4 years, I became increasingly involved with an ELCA church devoted to campus ministry. I went from a passive observer on Sunday morning to an active participant; I actually talked during Bible study and served as co-chair on council. Many of my previous beliefs were challenged as I grew in faith.
As I prepared to graduate, get married, and move across the country to Connecticut, I spent almost as much time church shopping online as I did looking for housing. Finding a church home was a top priority, and as I transitioned into an adult in the church, I knew I wanted to get involved with youth ministry. I wanted to give youth what I thirsted for as an adolescent. I felt apprehensive due to my uneasiness when talking about my faith, but I knew pushing myself outside of my comfort zone would be what I needed.
Working with the YES class has definitely helped me continue to grow. These teens already have quite strong faith thanks, in part, to Emmaus. They ask challenging questions and generate insightful discussion. It's a joy to watch them grow in faith, and they continually amaze me. They got so much out of the pilgrimage to Wales, but even on a weekly basis, it's incredibly rewarding to teach a Sunday School lesson that challenges and grows their beliefs.
Youth aren't just the future of the church; they are part of the here and now of the church. It's easy to underestimate the depth of spirituality these children have, and it's important to make sure they are fed too.