by Teresa D. Goins
Thanks to a faithful tech-savvy pastor, our church membership in Louisville has been ministered to (since March 2020, when the pandemic began), through online means. We have online adult Sunday School every Sunday, Bible Study every Wednesday, and the pastor’s sermon (via radio broadcast) every Saturday; but we don’t have online Youth services. In a Samford University article, I stumbled upon the restructured word “QuaranTeen,”* and my heart was pricked. I had not seen my youth choir group for 11 months! I needed to recruit the Teenagers in Frankfort to send a QuaranTeen message to their younger counterpart choir members in Louisville. That is exactly what we did, and here is how we did it …
It was the middle of January, still in the deluge of COVID-19, when we started our project. With no in-person school, no sleepovers with friends, and very few academic clubs or sports meetings to attend, it was easy to get our Frankfort youth involved. Including my
granddaughter, they are a four-person group of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16, who I can always depend upon; and they were excited! To get started, I texted the four, asking each of them to send me two or three ‘selfie’ shots of themselves, along with a short two-to-three-sentence QuaranTeen message directed to our youth choir members in Louisville. The only pre-requisite was that they be creative with their individual messages. They could choose to be silly, sentimental, serious, or solemn. Recorded below is a glimpse into each of the teens’ QuaranTeen messages, which we plan to send (along with photos) in the mail, during the first week of February.
Anna is a kind, accommodating, mostly quiet girl who takes care of the needs of the other four. She is the thoughtful one, who loves to laugh. Anna posed with her new baby sister in her QuaranTEEN photos, which made them extra special! She said, “It can be tough going through something like this pandemic, but I hope you are okay. I bless each and every one of you. I miss singing with you (and most of all, being silly).”
Kaitlyn is a cheerleader, a tiny girl, but not afraid to voice her opinions. She is confident, enthusiastic, and a loyal friend. She said, “Hey, everyone! I miss church so much and can’t wait to see you again! Keeping busy with ‘cheer’ has been the biggest help for me during the pandemic. Stay safe!”
Cree is another very present teenager. Also, a cheerleader, she is a magnetic socialite, who has never seen a stranger. Cree said, “Hey, guys! I hope you are staying safe and doing alright. Hope you have had a better start to the new year. Love and miss you all!”
Lastly, there is Madison, my granddaughter, who is her own person, an artist and avid archer. She is creative and (unknowingly) causes others to follow. Madison said, “The hardest part of the pandemic is not seeing my friends. I’m sure you are going through the same emotions. Keep your masks on! Miss you!”
I decided to share the above with our American Baptist readers to say this: First, I am proud of my QuaranTeen teenagers, who gave of themselves to bless the other (younger) members of our church youth choir (and allowed me to use their real names in this writing). Second, an affirmation: No matter how difficult, we must strive to stay connected during this pandemic! Our youth (especially) are struggling. They are undergoing separation anxiety, unable to touch and talk with their friends face to face. As laypersons, we may not understand the pain they are experiencing, but psychologists argue that a child’s development (both social and academic) depends highly upon his or her ability to interact with peers. The Apostle Paul said it so eloquently: “… so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5). “… from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Said simply: As God’s children, we need each other! As youth choir director, what might be MY message to the choir? “Hold on, remain cradled in the arms of God, and He will deliver us! We will be together again … soon.”
SOURCE (for Title of this article):
* Our title for this month’s American Baptist Newspaper article was borrowed from an online piece written by youth leader Eric L. Mathis and published by Samford University (AL) on April 2, 2020: “QuaranTeen: Worshiping with Teenagers Online.” A link to this valuable resource is provided in the Source documentation above. All rights to the clever restructuring of the word “QuaranTeen” go to Mathis.