Student Ministries update

Student Ministries update

A special update on the latest Student Ministries news from Pastor Ellis White: I heard from two high school students this week who were telling me how much they love our High School Ministry right now. I’ve heard from parents how impressed they are with the way their children are growing in both our Middle School and High School Ministries. And I’ve witnessed first-hand the energy and excitement that is there on a Tuesday and Wednesday night as I’ve had the opportunity to preach and lead worship, alongside our other pastors and interns.  

We have an incredible team of volunteer leaders who are pouring into our students at this time, and we love seeing how they have stepped up. However, I realize that many of you might not know who is currently leading our Middle School and High School Ministries, and so I asked them to introduce themselves to you. 

JJ Bland, Interim Middle School Director

JJ: In the summer of 2022, it was my joy to return to Chapel Hill to serve families with young children as your Preschool Director. I actually began my teaching career at Chapel Hill Preschool when my own children were young. I received my BS of Elementary Education at Grand Canyon University (2017) and earned my Master of Education in Literacy (2020); I spent five years in the elementary classroom, teaching first and third graders before returning to Chapel Hill. This past August, I was asked to step in as Interim Director of Middle School Ministries during the search for a new leader.      

As the Interim Director, I have learned that youth ministries require the goofy fun of a “cruise director” while wearing many other layers of hats like teacher, friend, and confidant. Along with an amazing group of weekly volunteers, we gather for gym games, worship, message, and small groups…and lots of candy, chips, and soda!  This fall, the students are growing through their learning of biblical truths and getting to know Jesus and his role in their lives. We have focused on the message: “Love God, Love Others, Make a Difference”. With this message we are building a culture of invitation. Weekly messages guide them on how to invite Jesus into their lives and the encouragement to invite friends to weekly MSM nights, while also inviting them to shine for God in their schools, activities, and homes.   

Middle School Ministries has played an important part in all three of my kids’ lives. With my youngest still in middle school and a large group of excited students, the importance of nurturing this ministry until a new leader is found is very personal to me, and I hope that you will join me in prayer for MSM and for the ministry’s future leader.  

Todd Davis, Interim High School Director

Todd: I worked as a high school counselor for 31 years. For the last 15 years I worked at Gig Harbor High School until I retired in June. While at GHHS, I also served as a coach for the C Team football, basketball, and baseball teams. In fact, I’m still the C Team basketball coach. I was also the advisor for the GHHS chapter of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) while working at GHHS and am currently working alongside Chapel Hill’s own Kim Maxwell as a co-leader. I am a trainer in Love and Logic parenting and have taught parenting classes at Chapel Hill Church in the past.  

The best part of my job as a school counselor was working with the students. I wanted every student I encountered to feel they were valued and what they had to say was important. Working with the students in HSM, I want them to feel the same way. I am working really hard to try and get to know their names and listen to their stories.  

At HSM, we want every student to feel valued, seen, empowered, and loved. I want students to grow in their relationship with Jesus. I want them to see that you can have fun as a follower of Christ. I want them to see the importance of their church family and being connected. Being a Christian is not something done solo. We really need each other.   

The team of volunteers we have working HSM are awesome. They truly care for the students and want them to have a faith that is theirs, solid, and will withstand the worldly challenges.  

The Future

Pastor Ellis: Student Ministries is central to our vision for the next five years. We believe God has called us to mobilize the next generation so that they live a life on mission for Christ. To that end, we began a search for an Assistant Pastor for Student Ministries this past summer. We have not had a Pastor in Student Ministries since Jeremy Vaccaro, after whom our student area is named, took on that role in the early 2000s, but we believe now is the time to return to having a Pastor lead this ministry.  

To aid us in our search, we have contracted with Vanderbloemen (the premier search firm for churches). We will be presented with candidates for this position shortly after Thanksgiving weekend, and, pending successful interviews, we hope to have hired someone to that position by the end of the first quarter of 2024.  

After hiring our new Assistant Pastor, we will work with them to hire a second full time staff person who will work alongside them to lead our Student Ministries. These two will work hand in hand with John Reich, our Administrative Assistant, Mirym Brandt and Nate Maxwell, our Worship Interns, and an incredible team of volunteers to lead our Student Ministries towards that five-year vision. 

We have an exciting present and future in our Student Ministries, and if you know of a Middle Schooler, or High Schooler who would benefit from being a part of these ministries, you can find more details about their weekly programs and events here (MSM) and here (HSM)

Pastor Ellis