Focus: Bethany Mennonite Church
You can find Bethany Mennonite Church in the picturesque area of Niagara-on-the-Lake. In 1965 they began separate services as an outflow of their sister congregation, Niagara United Mennonite Church.
Rebecca Penner is the Youth Pastor at Bethany Mennonite Church. Her goal for youth ministry is to gather the youth together in intentional spaces that invite them to encounter God and grow in their relationship with God and community. Rebecca’s background in international development studies helps to shape how she does ministry with youth with the use of different methods of dialogue and interaction as well as looking at justice issues.
- Youth group is mostly grade 9’s
- Sponsors support Rebecca’s ministry with youth and are encouraged to lead things as well. She is committed to spending personal time with the youth sponsors to support them in their role with youth and in their faith.
- The youth get together every Monday for different events which includes a Bible study component. The Bible study topics were created by the youth, who after a brainstorming session, narrowed down their themes to five topics. One of these was a request to talk about shoes - they had a series where every week, they talked about what different shoes can teach them about faith.
- The church is invited to support the youth through baking, helping at events, and prayer. A specific group of adults get weekly emails about how they can pray for the youth ministries.
- The youth are encouraged to share prayer requests within the group, and they pray together at the end of every youth night.
- The youth are encouraged to make events a technology free zone.
- To build relationships with adults in the church, Rebecca invites them to share their faith stories with the youth during Sunday School, or get involved by teaching the youth skills, like quilt tying with some women from the church.
- The youth occasionally do things together with other youth from MCEC churches in the Niagara area like a retreat together at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp.
- The youth helped to host at fundraiser spaghetti supper at Westview Christian Fellowship, a church that runs a women’s outreach centre in St. Catharines. The event included at panel discussion about the issue of affordable housing.
- Rebecca has the unique opportunity to connect at a local public school during fall and winter months. At the invitation of the principle, she plays games with the children on their lunch break
Rebecca invites prayer for her youth – that church would be a place where they are able to create space in their lives to encounter God’s love and grow in community.