Youth pastor has high hopes for new job

December 27, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Brian Leimone would be the first to admit he was no scholar in high school.

"I didn't want to go to college at all," said the new youth pastor at Virginia Avenue Baptist Church in Hagerstown.

What turned him around was the realization that if he wanted to go into the ministry, which was his lifelong dream, education was the path.

A North Carolina native, Leimone attended school in Philadelphia.

Then, he entered Eastern University in Pennsylvania, graduating in May. He started at the church at 17426 Virginia Ave. right away as youth pastor.


"There were youth leaders before and some interns, but nothing regular," Leimone said. There was a Sunday school and a youth group headed up by parents, but with busy work schedules, developing a strong youth program was difficult.

So Leimone took on the challenge.

"On an average Sunday, there will be 90 to 125 people here for church," Leimone said. About 25 or so youths in middle and high school are affiliated with the church.

Before Leimone arrived, the ratio was heavy with middle-school age children, but now there are just three middle-schoolers. That can have an impact on planning appropriate activities for those of different ages but Leimone says he feels up to the challenge.

During the summer Vacation Bible School, Leimone and the youths took on the task of cleaning out the church-owned house next to the church - the first step in turning it into a hub for youth activities.

"Then in November, we made the official changeover to the youth as a place where they can be safe," Leimone said. "We are already having activities here."

The youths have been doing the painting with help from parents and other church members. Items have been donated to what has been dubbed "Project Impact," Leimone said.

"We have been selling calendars, collecting used printer cartridges and accepting donations," he said.

Since May, Leimone has formed the youths into a group called ConneXions. The youth Bible study group is called The Core.

"Our activities are open to all youth, no matter if they go to Virginia Avenue Baptist, another church or no church at all," Leimone said. If the groups grow, as Leimone hopes, he will be recruiting more adults into the leadership.

In addition to his work as youth pastor, Leimone, 22, works for United Parcel Service unloading trucks in the wee hours of the morning.

Leimone's wife, Sarah, is in graduate school at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., where she is studying physical therapy. They met while both were students at Eastern University.

The Herald-Mail Articles