Middle School Youth Group
Middle School YG (MSYG) meets weekly during Family Night on Wednesday evenings, 7:00-8:00 pm. The evening starts with dinner, from 6:00-7:00 pm, where the youth can either sit with their families, sit as a groups together, or interact with attendees younger and/or much older than themselves. It has a definite family feel. MSYG is then a time for just middle school (grades 6-8) youth and their adult leaders to gather for playing games, learning lessons about life, and listening to each other’s highs and lows for the week. Due to the large number of school districts represented by church membership and the Family Night ministry, our youth get to build relationships with youth they normally don’t get to see often.
Middle School Mission Trip
Due to COVID-19, this year’s Youth Works trip to Milwaukee was many of our middle schoolers’ first ever mission trip, and while that may have been apparent on the unexpectedly quiet drive up to Milwaukee, by the time we were driving back home, the van was practically a karaoke stage, blaring classics like “the YMCA.” Not only did this trip provide space for the middle schoolers to grow together as a group, but it was also a space of serious service. The theme of this year’s program was “Be Real”, and throughout the week we were invited to meditate on Romans 12, which calls us to love authentically and actively, in service to others because of the love Christ has shown us. Our youth had the opportunity to practice embodying this concept each day of the trip, as they endured the heat and humidity while weeding urban garden beds, cleaning up underserved neighborhoods, packing food to be distributed to those in need, and building relationships with children and youth in the day care and development programs we served with.
Next summer’s middle school mission trip will be with Youth Works in Louisville, KY. Email Jeni Eklund for information about signing up.
High School Youth Group
HSYG (for grades 9-12) gathers Sunday evenings, 6:00-8:00 pm, to grow in relationship with God and each other. Our high school youth ministry offers a wide range of programs and activities designed to engage youth right where they are and develop a faith that they can see in their everyday lives. Our program draws from at least seven different high schools in the area, bringing together teens from all over the northwest suburbs of Chicago. By the time they are graduating high school seniors, our high school youth will have been challenged in their faith, served others in mission, and made friendships that will last a lifetime.
High School Mission Trip
This year’s high school mission trip was to Camp El Guacio, a Presbyterian summer camp in San Sebastián, Puerto Rico. We had the amazing opportunity to worship and roast marshmallows with the Presbyterian youth in Puerto Rico, interact with the amazing tropical ecosystem (including spiders, frogs, lizards, fish, snails, crabs, and parrots), hack through fifty-foot tall bamboo groves, paint an entire two- story building, and play a lot of fun games. The story of Camp El Guacio was a powerful example of the sacrificial service we are all called to participate in as Christians. Wilmari Vagras, the camp director, told us how, in the wake of hurricane Maria, the camp faithfully served the community in whatever way was needed—as a medical refuge, a source of free, clean water, and even as the only place (a year after the hurricane!) to get ice. El Guacio’s commitment to service, hospitality, and growing with their community was a profound reminder of the work that we carry with us–whether we’re in places like Puerto Rico, or in Arlington Heights.
CollegeCARE connects young adults
CollegeCARE is our ministry for college-age youth and their families. We are focused on continuing to grow relationships with God, the church, and each other. We connect through preparing and sending care packages; gatherings and activities over holiday and summer breaks; service projects and mission trips; and ongoing contact through social media and phone calls. All of this is designed to let the college youth know that while they may not frequently be physically at the church, they are still very much a part of it.