“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26, NRSVue)
Next Sunday, we say goodbye to Mak Knowlden, our Director of Youth Ministries, who is taking a position in Dallas, Texas. Mak came to serve at the First UMC of Florence in August 2019 as a Youth Ministry Resident through the Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT). Through our participation as a partnering church with CYMT, we provided Mak with a context for practicing ministry while earning a Master of Youth Ministry seminary-level degree. Following her three-year residency, Mak began serving full-time as an employee of the church.
Since arriving at FUMC-Florence, Mak has developed relationships with the students already here while reaching out to new students. While the numbers fluctuate depending on the student’s extracurricular activities, Mak has 20 students who comprise our Youth Ministry’s core. In addition to focusing on relationships, Mak emphasized the need for our students to learn more about the Bible and how it fits into their lives. One way this is measured is how well our young people can articulate their faith to others. From the start, Mak envisioned students sharing their faith with others. Each student has a story to tell, and Mak’s goal was for each of our graduating seniors to be able to share their faith story in some way. With eight students graduating in 2024, we hope to continue to help them develop their witness.
On Sunday, July 23rd, at the 8:15 and 11:00 am worship services, Mak is preaching. She is stepping into our summer sermon series on “Summer Playlist.” She has selected a Taylor Swift song, “Long Live,” related to her message from Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. As an avid “Swiftie,” I’m sure Mak will have an inspiring and informative sermon for us.
Following the 11:00 am worship service, we are hosting a reception for Mak in the Parlor. I hope you will be present to send Mak off with our love and gratitude. She has been an important part of our staff over the past four years, and we want her to know how much we appreciate her contributions to the life of our church.
We’ll see you on Sunday, and don’t forget to bring your friends!