A Special Thank-you to our Advisors

Becka Fergusson-Lutz, Interim Coordinator of Youth Ministry

Our youth ministry relies heavily on a cadre of dedicated people who nurture the young people of our church. This has been a particularly challenging year for youth ministry, as we’ve been almost entirely online (with occasional outdoor in-person events as COVID safety protocols have allowed). Many of our youth advisors spend all day, every day online in their professional capacities, yet they still give hours each week to the middle- and high-schoolers of Third Church! 

  • Jenny Bay serves as the co-chair of the Youth Committee and represents the needs of the youth to Session (along with Mary Ellen Knickerbocker), but she also serves as an advisor. She takes an extremely active role in all aspects of our program. 
  • Bruce Peachey has been a YOUth@Third advisor for decades, and his concern for youth people is indefatigable. Last semester he led “Presbyterians Love Science,” a club that looked at the intersections of faith and scientific inquiry. This semester he has been leading a STEM support session every Wednesday night, to which students can sign on to get help with math and science homework. 
  • Murie Gillett is an alumna of the YOUth@Third Program who is an ally in every sense of the word. Since September Murie and I have been leading the “God’s Rainbow Friends” club every other Sunday afternoon, where we meet with some of the youth of our church who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, to create a safe space to talk about gender, sexual, and faith identities.
  • Molly Carlson is another alumna of the YOUth@Third program who has come on board this program year both as an advisor and Youth Committee member. She led a yoga club last semester and this semester has taken on primary responsibility for coordinating our twice-monthly online game nights. 
  • Gretchen Young-Zeh is a longtime advisor and member of the Youth Committee who brings steadiness and pragmatism to our work. She’s willing to try anything, serve in any capacity, or go anywhere! 
  • Sean and Dawn Ossont have gladly stepped in on several occasions to serve where needed. During care groups, Sean is great at pulling young people into conversation, and he always seems to have an answer when someone poses a tough question. 
  • Joelle Rooney, my little sister and crafter extraordinaire, helped with the “All God’s Creatures” club for middle-schoolers last semester.  
  • Lea Kone, my boss at Camp Whitman and the Moderator-Elect of the Presbytery of Genesee Valley, led the “Spirituality of Food” club last semester for our middle-schoolers. 
  • Nick Black was a regular presence in our care groups throughout the spring and summer of 2020. 
  • Eli Henry served as an advisor last spring and summer before heading out to Princeton Theological Seminary in September. 

Note: This list doesn’t even include the members of the Youth Committee, who serve behind the scenes to brainstorm ideas, raise funds, help with logistics for events, and chart the course for our program! 

There has been considerable research done on the effectiveness of youth ministry and the conclusion of almost every study is the same: relationships matter most. The investment of time is the most important investment of all, and I am extraordinarily grateful for the untold hours that these advisors have given to our program and our young people. 

Photos from our recent sledding trip: