Minister named to national youth council

December 02, 1996


Staff Writer

Mark Sandell is no kid but he's got kids at heart.

The pastor of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Williamsport was recently elected to the National Presbyterian Youth Council of the Presbyterian Church in America.

"There are only 30 of us nationwide," Sandell said. "Fifteen of those members are adults and 15 are youth. And the youth run the meetings."

That, Sandell said, shows that the council is serious about its mission to youth.

Always a youth advocate, Sandell said that is a major reason why he was called to St. Andrew four years ago and surely, why he was elected to the national post.


"Youth Connection" is the big drive within the Presbyterian Church. "It's a real focus on the youth," Sandell said.

Every church needs to be involved in youth, for their sakes as well as for the church, Sandell said.

"Our youth are in a culture that says to believe in nothing," Sandell said. "We use faith to put values in youths' hearts."

He hastens to add that including youth in programs and decisions is not just a way to ensure that a congregation will continue.

"We know that youth are the future of our church but they are also an integral part of the present," Sandell said.

The council meets once a year and then in committees throughout the rest of the year.

The next full meeting will be in California in February. Travel and lodging are paid for that trip, Sandell said. But otherwise, there is no pay for serving the three-year term on the council.

Much of the council's work is creating a curriculum for churches, for the youth and for youth ministries, Sandell said. There are ways to start and maintain youth programs, in small and large churches.

And since Sandell believes these principles begin at home, St. Andrew already has energized its youth ministry.

"We have a planning process in the fall, involving our youth and about our youth," Sandell said.

Last summer, the youth participated in two work camps in Virginia Beach, Va., where the young people painted and helped repair homes of people who need help.

"Our youth have ownership of their programs and their plans and that makes all the difference," Sandell said.

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