5:30 P.M. EST March 19, 2010
From left, teens Derrek Long, Jason Smedley and Jordann Longnecker are
active in mission at West Guthrie United Methodist Church.
photos courtesy of Teresa Longnecker.
View in Photo Gallery
It doesn’t take long to call roll for the United Methodist Youth
Fellowship at West Guthrie United Methodist Church. On a busy day, the
group claims four members.
But that small group is having a huge impact on the life of the
church and community in Guthrie, Okla., through a ministry of service
that would rival a church of any size.
Since forming in 2007, the group has undertaken a wide variety of
service projects, from raising funds for several charities to helping
elderly members with cleaning and chores.
“We’ve got some coming up and two graduating so we maintain about
three to four in the group,” says West Guthrie member Teresa
Longnecker, the group’s sponsor and mother of fellowship member Jordann
“We have hosted a Fat Tuesday pancake supper the last two years.
There is no charge – they pay for it from their yearly calendar and
greeting card sales – and the kids do the cooking and cleaning,”
Those calendar sales and a team-sponsored
rummage sale also helped to purchase 200 bed nets for Africa and more
than $500 to assemble care boxes for soldiers.
In April, they are sponsoring a “Run for the Troops” fun run to
raise more money for soldier care packages. Fellowship member Derrek
Long, a member of his high school’s ROTC program, helped organize the
The fellowship takes a keen interest in the church’s youth. They
host celebrations for children that emphasize the Christian
perspectives of the holy days of Christmas and Easter. The day before
Easter they will have a Hallelujah Saturday to dye eggs, play games,
make Easter "empty tomb" cookies and learn the story of Easter events
through Resurrection Eggs. With help from adult supporters, they
converted an unused room at the church for youth ministry.
“Since we are a small church, they also play a major part in
Vacation Bible School by helping with games, crafts and skits, and
also helped narrate the children's Christmas program,” Longnecker
For its latest fundraiser, the fellowship sponsored a churchwide
cookbook called "Recipes for God's Children," which has so far raised
more than $1,000. The profits were divided among West Guthrie’s local
budget, United Methodist mission apportionments and Guthrie Crossroads
Clinic, which offers counseling to pregnant teens and alternatives
So how does such a small group accomplish so many things? Teresa
Longnecker believes it’s simply an extraordinary commitment to help
“There are lots of opportunities for kids to go out and have fun. I
know a lot of churches try to make everything about having fun,”
Longnecker said. “Kids have lots of other ways to have fun, but what
they’re looking for is a way to serve Christ.”
*Butler is 18-34 content editor for United Methodist Communications,
News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470