The Center for Youth Ministry Training celebrates the commissioning of our seventh class of graduate residents. We wanted to share with you what this class will be doing after CYMT.
For the past three years, Stacie Ballard has served at Maples Memorial UMC in Olive Branch, Miss. Stacie is from Washington state and went to school in Idaho. Adjusting to the cultural differences between the Northwest and the Southeast a significant adjustment. Stacie met her husband Brad at Maples Memorial and they got married last year. Maples’ youth ministry has grown in stability, strength, and depth under their leadership. Brad has accepted a graduate associate in music education position at at Boise State University beginning this Fall. After she learned to become a Southern belle, it is now Brad’s turn to become an Idahoan. Stacie is currently looking for a position in Idaho where she can continue to live out her call to serve youth.
Kyle Bomar has faithfully served at Trinity UMC in Murfreesboro for the past three years. Kyle came to CYMT from Emory and Henry College in Virginia. During his time at Trinity, Kyle has discerned a call to ordained ministry as an elder in the United Methodist Church. Kyle married Caitlin last year and they are faithfully seeking God’s next steps for their ministry together. Kyle will continue his studies at Memphis Theological Seminary to complete his Masters of Divinity.
Randy Knighten began CYMT without a undergraduate degree. Randy had more than 10 years experience working in local churches as a youth pastor and pastor in congregations in Louisiana. He came to Tennessee to work for Harvest Hands CDC and the youth of South Nashville. CYMT was thrilled to connect with Randy and provide a program where he could continue to grow as a pastor and leader while getting an education. Randy served as the youth minister at Andrew Price Memorial UMC in Donelson. Randy pulled double duty while in CYMT: he completed his undergraduate degree at American Baptist College while also participating in the CYMT course of study. Although Randy was unable to earn all the credits for his Master of Arts in Youth Minstry, he did complete the program with an undergraduate degree and 32 hours of seminary credit. In April, Randy accepted a position as the youth minister at Covenant UMC in Austin, Texas and will be working towards finishing his Masters at Austin Theological Seminary. Covenant is an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse congregation that will allow Randy to serve from his heart of reconciling the church.
Tiffany Malone is from Denver, Colo. After college she worked at a church in California, and that experience taught her that she desperately wanted training and support so that she could live out her call. Tiffany became the youth minister at White House UMC in White House, Tenn. White House’s youth ministry has thrived under Tiffany’s leadership. She married Matt, her love from back home, last summer.
Andrew Mochrie will begin his fourth year at Manchester UMC in Manchester, Tenn. Andrew came to CYMT from Macon, Ga. and Georgia College and State University. Andrew has built a very strong youth ministry in Manchester. He has turned down multiple offers to do ministry at other churches to stay and continue to build on the strong foundation they have established at Manchester.
No one traveled farther than Neal Wilkinson to join the CYMT program. Neal is from Northern Ireland and he serves as the Junior High Student Minister at Brentwood UMC. While in the program, he fell in love with Joanna Bellis, a CYMT graduate resident from Missouri. Joanna and Neal will be married this August. This summer, Neal will become a full-time staff member of BUMC and plans to continue his studies at Memphis Theological Seminary to complete his Masters of Divinity.
Tiffany Malone shared of her CYMT experience, “CYMT has given me the tools and the confidence to build a healthy youth ministry at any church. The coaching experience is invaluable and a great source of accountability. Through the cohort experience I have had the opportunity to collaborate and build relationships with colleagues who have led worship at our youth events. CYMT has opened new doors for me and I am grateful for the genuine care of the staff for both my ministry and my future.”
As individuals and as a group, they have grown so much throughout their experience. Their friendship runs deep and will help sustain them through the trials of ministry and life. They are strong. Each of them has faced personal or ministry tests that have bent them, but through the support of CYMT and their coaches they did not break. They are ministers who care deeply for the hearts of young people. They are encouragers and leaders who set an example for their CYMT classmates of what the CYMT family should look like. CYMT has been strengthened because of their presence and the world will be changed by their ministry.
CYMT is proud to announce the expansion of our original initiative into Theology Together 2.0. CYMT aims to develop a curriculum to be used in local congregations and ministries. Taking what we have learned about engaging youth in deep theological reflection during missional experiences and embedding those processes into congregational youth ministries.
"I hope students come away from my courses with the ability to think more deeply, richly and theologically about their youth ministry practice. I think a lot of what happens in youth ministry happens unreflectively and can be deforming to young people, and my courses are intended to give students a theological framework for evaluating and reforming their youth ministry practice."
Of course, I want students to drink deeply from the academic readings, lectures and discussions, and I want them to be informed by the academics. But more than that, I want them to see that youth ministry is a calling of God, an important part of God’s mission in the world, one that should give them pride and evoke humility at the same time.