Monday, October 17, 2011

YoungLife: Partnering Ministries

This week YoungLife, a national Christian ministry for teenagers, turns 70.  Over the decades, generations of Gordon College students have volunteered with this ministry impacting the lives of local high school kids through YoungLife North Shore.

The North Shore ministry started 34 years ago under the leadership of Ronald Huth and Dean Borgman in 1977. Borgman was a professor for the youth ministries program at Gordon-Conwell and Huth, who had just relocated from Cleveland, Ohio, became the YoungLife Area Director providing the field ministry experience for Borgman's seminary students. But Huth also had his foot quickly planted on Gordon's campus and working with President Dick Gross, he took a part-time role in Gordon's Admissions Office and created alternative chapel services for students interested in youth ministries and serving teens in the local community.
"The first links between the College and YoungLife began through the leadership chapel services," said Huth. "Soon after, the College began to send a monthly check to YoungLife to help support the program and help fund my work with teens in the local community; and President and Jody Gross served on our first Young Life committee to help give leadership experience to the ministry we were all working to build."

And let's not forget that Gordon's La Vida program first began through YoungLife. "La Vida grew out of a goal to follow-up on high school kids who had made a commitment to Christ at Young Life summer camps. We'd take them on a wilderness discipleship program," said Rich Obenschain, director of outdoor education.

Dean Borgman was helping an inner city YoungLife ministry on the Lower East Side of New York City where some Spanish- speaking youth gave the name to the La Vida outreach. La Vida ran for 10 years through YoungLife before moving to Gordon College in 1982 under Rich Obenschain's leadership.

Today, the North Shore branch of YoungLife takes place in a very dynamic location--at Gordon College. The ministry has an office in Conrad Hall where meetings take place and volunteers still connect with local teens. This relationship fills a great need in the local community, and also provides a great practical youth ministry and mentoring program for students in Gordon's Department of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries. "This is a genuine partnership between the College and YoungLife," said Mark Cannister, professor of Christian ministries. "It's more than an organization we support, they provide great value to our programs. It's a partnership that spans well over 30 years here on the North Shore."

In 2010, Gordon College and YoungLife North Shore partnered again to create a scholarship for incoming students with high school YoungLife experience and who want to continue their involvement at college. "YoungLife is a valuable and life-changing Christian ministry for high school students across the country," said Dan Tymann, executive vice president and chief of staff. Tymann worked with Gordon's Development Office to finance the scholarship. "Most students who have been active participants in their local YoungLife program prove to be outstanding assets to any college community."

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