Youth Sunday Senior Sermon
My experience at Kenilworth Union Church has been a long one. Starting when I was six months old I was baptized by Dr. Bowen. Little did I know, the amazing impact this place would have on me as I grew up. The next step was A Joyful Noise preschool, where I learned exciting things, like how to paint with your hands but also met lasting friends. There was then of course the Veggie Tales in the Culbertson Room with Dr. Bowen, which I always thought was pretty cool. My favorite part of preschool was singing the chapel songs, which led to me joining the Rejoice youth choir as soon as I could. Lisa Bond had an undeniable impact on my life as I began to learn all types of lessons through church choir. I joined with Sarah Bundra and Ciara Palmer who soon became two of my closest friends and I soon also learned to see God through music. In fifth grade I auditioned to be one of the three kings in the Christmas pagent. Although I had been singing in the choir for a while, I had yet to take on a big solo in front of a whole congregation. I was ecstatic to be the second king, and practiced in my bedroom every night until that fateful day where I walked down this aisle. I’ll never forget the sense of confidence that I felt being surrounded by such an incredible congregation, and how I felt God in every step I took. Even though I am positive that I didn’t sound as good as I thought I did, I felt supported through every step. This confidence carried me to do a variety of different things as I took on my next journey.
Next I took on confirmation. I didn’t know what to think of confirmation at first. It was a long journey where I found my true beliefs, and where I felt open to have those beliefs be anything. This is one of the things that has had the most impact on me, how open-minded this church community is. Writing my faith statement, I knew that I could be me, feel what I needed to feel, and knowing that gave me a sense of safety and security that I had never found anywhere besides my own home. After confirmation, I joined the IMPACT youth group. I have since been on three mission trips, and am preparing to go on my fourth this summer. What stands out to me about IMPACT is not only the incredible opportunity I have to take a journey to a different state, or a different country, but the constant feeling of compassion through these trips. Nothing is off limits in IMPACT, I have learned to step way out of my comfort zone. Silvi Pirn has become a huge role model for me through the IMPACT program. I am so inspired by her openness to everyone and everything, no matter what is thrown her way. It has strengthened my faith in every way and I feel very equipped for everything that I am going to have to face later in life. I have met some of the best people in IMPACT, and I firmly believe that the best people go on these trips, and you can only become a better person from them.
As I go off to college, I’m a little scared to leave KUC. The late night “sleep-overs”, where no one would actually sleep, before departing on the mission trips, the weird and crazy games that somehow brought everyone together, are something that will stay with me forever. Leaving KUC means leaving something that has been such a constant in my life ever since I was a baby. Leaving KUC is a lot like leaving my own family. I can’t stand up here today without thanking them for everything they have done for me. Thank you to my mom, who is the most understanding and caring person I know. No matter how many times I don’t listen or don’t do something you’ve probably asked me to do about twelve times, there is still love in your voice, even when your mad. Thank you for being such an incredible role model for me to look up to. Thank you to my dad, who has somehow managed to become the best balance of funny and weird while staying grounded and strict when needed. Through you two I have learned to “work hard, play hard”. There are times for fun and there is time for hard work, and finding the right balance will lead you to a very happy life and great successes. I am so grateful to have been part of such an incredible welcoming community for my life and I am so happy to know that I will always be coming back. To my twin brother, who has always been such a support to me, and always giving it to me straight, I have yet to figure out what I am going to do without you within a few miles of me at all time. And to my baby sisters, who are clearly no longer babies, thank you for being you and loving me, even when you’re mad at me for taking your clothes without asking. I feel so blessed to have had such an incredible experience through Kenilworth Union Church. Thank you to the congregation for making me feel this welcome.