GETTYSBURG — Impact Teens, a teen youth group from the Bradford Church of the Brethren, did not wait to wake up to a new year.
They stayed up all night New Year’s Eve, during a “Lock In.” Kathy Weldy is an Impact leader and volunteer, and was one of the volunteer chaperones for the event. About 35 kids are in the group, in grades 7-12, but the special event allowed for guests.
“It’s a fun fellowship evening to bring in the New Year,” Weldy said. “It is also a safe place for kids to go and have a place to be, literally from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. It’s a different option versus some of the things they are exposed to, especially the older teens. It also gives an integration for kids who have never been to church, allowing them to build friendships and relationships with the people here. Nobody sleeps; as long as we keep things moving, we can stay awake.”
Some of the plans for keeping things moving included: a food buffet, fellowship and games. Chaperon Jerry Dunlevy headed up the Jenga game. Two of his daughters are in the Impact group: Mallory and Mia. Mallory is a junior and has been in the youth group for five years.
“I love being around all the kids and the adults, such as our Pastor Dan Scalf and my dad. I have grown close with everyone, and enjoy spending a lot of time with them.”
Patience Chowning is a 10th-grader in the youth group. She has been in Impact since grade six.
“It is another family,” she said. “You can count on them to be there for you, and it’s fun hanging out with everyone.”
Senior Clayton Layman has been in the group two years.
“This is a good group of people and they are Christian friends,” he said. “It is important, as this day and age they are not easy to find.”
In addition to the “Lock In” and other events, the Impact group takes annual mission trips. Some of the past trips have included: North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Eighth-grader Tryston Kelley has been on two of the mission trips.
“My favorite part of the trip is when we are done, and just seeing the look on peoples’ faces after we have helped them,” he said.
“It’s just a joy,” Jerry added. “The children get to see how much love there is in getting together for friendship and fellowship-it just gives you a good feeling. I enjoy their company.”
Weldy said about 30 kids and some volunteer chaperones take the trips.
“We have been very blessed in that sense that we have had a lot of interest,” she said. “The youth group started with six kids, and has snow-balled from there. Our Pastor Dan has always had a passion for youth, and all of the parents are volunteers. I get so much out of this, that I could never imagine, with regards to some of the kids and being able to help them. I see things through their eyes-all that joy and commitment-and they all have hearts to serve. They are very good kids, who don’t always have the opportunity, and this gives them an opportunity. I feel I am not really volunteering, because they give me so much out of it.”
Impact teens meet every Sunday, 6-8 p.m., at the Bradford Church of the Brethren. The church is located at 120 West Oakwood Street, Bradford, Ohio. For more information, call 937-448-2215.
The writer may be reached at (937) 569-4354.