meredith hinton is a youth worker in one of my current north carolina YMCP cohorts. and she’s a freaking rockstar.
(disclaimer: it’s very possible i have some minor details off on this; but the basics, i’m quite sure, are accurate; and any minor discrepancies in no way diminish the large servings of awesome.)
so: meredith was a youth intern, and then, while in seminary, was involved in some sort of ministry effort that involved multiple small churches. and in that context, a vision was birthed. when meredith’s freshly minted husband (also a minister, but of the ‘one in charge’ variety) got placed in a small church in far-western north carolina, meredith started to dream and scheme, plan and pray. she knew the methodist churches in appalachia were all tiny, and that few–if any–could support a youth ministry.
meredith and four local pastors (including her husband) put together a grant proposal and got funding for a few years of start-up. she met with 10 small churches in her district and shared a vision for a shared youth ministry. all 10 jumped in. and now, a year later, this beautiful thing is unique and quirky and powerful.
get these realities that are so contextualized and amazing:
- the 10 churches have something like 5 pastors between them (more than one of the pastors have a ‘multi-point charge,’ meaning they preach at multiple churches)
- most of these churches have between 6 and 50 people in them
- 5 of the churches do not even have a single child or teenager, yet they’re on board and fully supportive (and involved)
- the youth group meetings rotate to a different church occasionally (i think it’s every three months)
- meredith has about 15 teenagers coming regularly; and get this: she had so many adults (mostly parents) showing up to help (too many for the youth ministry), so she started an adult small group that meets concurrently with the overflow of parents.
meredith’s context is certainly unique. and what’s next, when the grant runs out, is still unclear. but meredith has developed a deep love for–and localized understanding of–the ‘mountain people’ (as she calls the people in her community). as readers of this blog will know, i’m deeply convinced that the very best youth ministries will always be highly contextualized and borne out of discernment from the spirit’s leading. meredith hinton, and her one-of-a-kind youth ministry are embodiments of those two realities.
here’s a little video of meredith put together by the duke endowment (her grant provider). well worth the few minutes to watch — you’ll be inspired!