Tonight, Lee's Summit North will be picketed by Fred Phelps' "church," protesting their production of "The Laramie Project," a play about the 1998 killing of Matthew Shepard.
The youth ministers of Lee's Summit have joined together to form this response to Mr. Phelps and his message of judgment, condemnation, and hate.
Dear Friends, Family, and Mr. Phelps,
We believe in teenagers. Teens are amazing creations of God, full of energy, wit, questions, laughter, love, and hope.
Today’s suburban teenager is under a tremendous amount of pressure and stress. Waking up before the sun rises to physically prepare for 8+ hours of school (they’ll mentally wake up a few hours later), they face the pressures of peers, parents, teachers, administrative staff, coaches, and culture. From games to grades and GPA’s, today’s teenager has 12 hours less free time per week than the previous generation. After school, they’ll quickly consume a few thousand calories and send a few thousand texts in between lessons, practices, a couple of hours of homework, and bedtime.
What teenagers need most at this critical age is the presence of encouraging adults. Teenagers often report feeling abandoned by the adults in their lives—parents too busy with work, classes too big to be noticed by teachers. More meals are eaten on the go than around the family dinner table answering silly questions from Mom and Dad. It is imperative that teens have many loving adults who will listen, coming alongside them in their struggles, stresses, and successes.
The youth ministries of Lee’s Summit emphasize that each person is wonderfully created, incredibly unique, inimitable, matchless, and irreplaceable. In the words of Paul, “We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original” (Galatians 5.25).
The youth ministries of Lee’s Summit follow Jesus as we make friends with all teens. Jesus became fully human, that we might see and know and understand the Life and Love of the Father. We, then, are called to walk alongside youth—in their sorrows and suffering, in their joys and triumphs, and in the ordinariness of everyday life—truly sharing life together.
The youth ministries of Lee’s Summit know that the relationship is the ministry. Not the programs or the project, but the person. We are learning to love one another and to serve one another. As we do this, we are learning to welcome Christ into our presence.
The youth ministries of Lee’s Summit exist that teenagers may know the incredible, life-transforming Love of God, and allow this Love to redefine their lives, living in God’s Story instead of a story that revolves around them.
It is the calling of each generation to pass along wisdom (and wit) to the next generation. It has been said that it takes ten positive comments to counteract the effects of every one negative comment. Convinced that the most powerful force in the universe is Love, the youth ministers of Lee’s Summit are trying to teach today’s teenager to live in radical love, hope, and a grace beyond imagination. And the question for each generation is: Can we learn to love each other enough?
God is especially fond of teenagers. David was but a teen when he killed Goliath. Many of Jesus’ first followers are thought to be teenagers. And, most importantly, Jesus himself came into this world through a teenager who dared to whisper a risky “Yes!” to God’s call.
The Youth Ministers of Lee’s Summit
Ethan Bryan—Cornerstone Church
Eddie Garlich—Deerbrook Covenant Church
Pam Hustad—ClearPoint Church
Curtis Privett—ClearPoint Church
Joe Gabbard—Christ Triumphant Church
Jamie Roach—Lakeland Community Church
Jason Lahey—Lakeland Community Church
Hattie Cummings—Young Life of Lee’s Summit
Justin Roach—New Beginnings Church
Jeff Arnold—First Baptist Church of Lee’s Summit
Andrew Collins--Raintree Community Church
Rebecca Grocott—Lee’s Summit United Methodist Church
Brian Swanson—Woods Chapel United Methodist Church
Phil Rayson—Aldersgate United Methodist Church
Ryan Schreckenghaust—Lee’s Summit Community Church
Leslie Snyder—Kansas City Parent Network