Dear St. Lukers,
For this year’s High School Summer Advocacy/Mission Experience, a group of our high school youth immersed themselves in problems our world has faced for generations and still faces today, through activities, advocacy training, service assignments, and a walk through major civil rights landmarks in Birmingham, Selma, Montgomery, and Atlanta.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, we explored the historical Kelly Ingram Park and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. On Wednesday after watching the movie “Selma,” we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and spent time at the Equal Justice Initiative and Legacy Museum in Montgomery.
As we explored these historical sites, our teens connected past lessons with present challenges. They witnessed the struggles of the civil rights movement and further deepened their understanding of the fight for justice and equality that we still face today.
These powerful encounters served as a catalyst for thought-provoking discussions about the role of advocacy in our lives as our youth confronted the harsh realities of racial injustice and systemic oppression. These experiences sparked deep emotions and conversations amongst our teenagers, specifically regarding advocacy as United Methodist youth.
Our students talked about how they, as young United Methodists, can actively engage in advocacy efforts that align with their faith and with St. Luke’s core values. Our teenagers shared their thoughts on racial injustice, gender inequality, LGBTQ+ rights, poverty, education, gun violence, access to healthcare, women’s rights, homelessness, and environmental stewardship. They recognized the importance of speaking out against discrimination, inequality, and systemic injustices and expressed a desire to be a force for positive change.
Witnessing their passion and commitment to making a difference has been a blessing. Our values of love, justice, inclusivity, and compassion resonated deeply with them, serving as a guiding light as they explored ways to advocate for those on the margins today.
In the spirit of fostering their enthusiasm, we are planning to organize activities focused on advocacy, where our teenagers can deepen their understanding of the social issues they care about and learn practical ways to contribute effectively. We will also explore opportunities for them to engage with local organizations and initiatives aligning with our church’s mission and values.
As a community, let us affirm and support our youth in their journey of becoming advocates for love and justice. Let us encourage their curiosity, provide them with resources and mentorship, and celebrate their accomplishments. Their passion and determination remind us that advocacy is not limited by age, but rather fueled by a genuine desire to make the world a better place. Together, we can nurture a generation of young people who are well-equipped to champion social justice causes and embody the transformative power of our vow to “resist evil and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves.”
Brandon Sangster (St. Luke’s Director of Youth Ministries) and the Youth Ministry Team