Annual ECMN Peer Ministry Leadership training program is available to those in Senior High. This training culminates in a commissioning to go out, be leaders among peers and help their fellow youth with a Christ-centered heart. There are now over 35 ECMN Youth Peer Ministers actively searching to make a Christ-connection with other teens in over 20 metro high schools.
“My name is Katherine Bartelings, and just like a lot of other teenagers my time is almost completely consumed with school, sports, and other activities. But I don’t want to allow all the craziness of life to keep me from furthering my journey with Christ and helping others with whatever their journey may be.
One recent aspect of my journey was Peer Ministry. Peer Ministry was formed because 3 or 4 years ago there was a teenage murder-suicide in Stillwater, Minnesota that could have been avoided. Multiple other teenagers not involved knew what was going on, but they didn’t know what to do. And they probably didn’t want to talk to an adult.
So who could they talk to? Maybe to other teenagers? Maybe to their friends or to family? Or maybe to just anyone willing to hear their story? And there are so many stories to be told. So, Peer Ministry was then designed as a program to train teenagers on how to identify and help other teenagers that need help but don’t know how to get help. This helping part appealed to me.
Thus, my Peer Ministry journey began in the usual Minnesota way. That is, I arrived at St. Clement’s Church -- nestled amongst the snow drifts of St. Paul -- after spending most of the day on Lake Minnetonka refereeing outdoor hockey games. And I was, of course, content to be in a warm church sitting in a circle with approximately 30 other teenagers. Even if, I didn’t know most of them. Anyway, that first evening was my introduction to Peer Ministry and as I listened and learned about Peer Ministry I have begun to think that not knowing most of the kids made me want to be even more aware of others and their needs.
Over the course of the weekend, I heard a lot of stories from different teens and I learned something different from each one. One story I heard was from one of the teenagers working to become a Peer Minister. He would get up every morning at 6:00 a.m. to help a friend with anxiety. His friend wouldn’t want to go to school so he would stay on the phone with his buddy to give him support right up until his friend’s bus arrived.
As I listened to this, I saw that this kid was able to and was willing to put his friend’s needs before his. He didn’t need to be up at 6:00 a.m. because his school started much later. Also, he didn’t force his friend to go to school. Instead, he gave the necessary support, like a shoulder to lean on, so his friend could face the day. And all of us know that facing some days can be difficult.
But, facing those days and helping others face those days is what I learned and was taught at my Peer Ministry training. This has done a lot for me. The skills I was taught are skills that I will be able to use my entire life, not just my teen years.
Also, I really believe that I was able to take in and learn as much as I did at the training because of the prior teaching and activities that Stacey, (my youth minister) has guided me through. Her shepherding myself and my peers over the past three years through lock-ins, youth groups, mission trips, pilgrimage preparations, and especially confirmation all seem to be very relevant to helping peer ministers connect with others.
So, I am very glad to become a Peer Minister and I think being a Peer Minister could become an important part of my faith journey. I hope this journey will be filled with more youth groups, mission trips, and many other new and different ways that I may find God, and connect with and help others.”