Sunday, June 17, 2018

Locally Grown offers teenagers a support system and unites local churches of various denominations

To start the summer-kickoff meeting, students in Locally Grown played a game, "Get to Know You."
Story and photos by Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Locally Grown, a local youth ministry for sixth to 12th graders in Midway and surrounding communities, held its summer kickoff Wednesday evening.

Now in its second year of full operation, Locally Grown is a cooperative ministry seeking to unite churches of different denominations in youth outreach. It got its start in August 2015, when several local churches united over their youth and their common faith. According to the program’s website, they seek to supplement existing youth ministries, support churches that lack youth programming, and engage youth who don’t attend church.

The name “Locally Grown” was inspired by the idea that young people’s surrounding community molds them into who they become.

Lily Savage, a student in Locally Grown, said the ministry gave her a positive support system. “I was really lonely before,” she said.

Another student, Willa Michel, said “Locally Grown has been super-beneficial in my life. It helps me connect with God in ways I wouldn’t have before.”

Bailey Spicer said that when she joined Locally Grown, she didn’t know what an impact it would have on her life. “It helps guide me through my issues,” she said, “and I can take the positivity I learn here and share it with others.”
The second game, "Race of Truth," had students advance when any of a series of statements applied to them.
Bud Ratliff, whose daughter, Zoe, is a student in Locally Grown, said the merging of the churches to form this ministry was “a real God moment.” He said the ministry was formed because Midway, like many small towns, has many churches and only a few young people in each. This ministry, he said, seeks to bring those churches and youth together.

Ratliff said the nine months that it took the vision of Locally Grown to be developed “was like birthing a child.” He said it provides a great opportunity for children like his daughter to grow up with trusting adults outside their families and to learn to love themselves and others. “That’s the whole message of Christ’s love,” he said.

Sara and Lee Busick, graphic designers in Midway, co-pastor the ministry. “We want it to be very real,” she said.

The ministry operates out of Midway Presbyterian Church, with other financial support from the Midway United Methodist Church, across the street. (The city gave it $500 last spring.) However, Busick said the ministry seeks to introduce the youth to other denominations and pastors at other churches in the area.

The weekly meetings often include pastors from other churches who are there to be in the students’ lives and serve as role models. Busick said this is an opportunity to let the students understand other denominations and practices. The ministry makes a point to visit other churches to let their students learn from other ministries.

“The goal is to be uniting, not divisive,” Busick said. “The focus is not on denominations. It’s on Jesus. My end goal is that when they walk out as 18-year-olds, they know how to pursue faith.”

During Wednesday’s kickoff, the students played a “Get to Know You” game that allowed them to share fun facts about themselves, participated in a “Race of Truth,” advancing when any of a series of statements applied to them (examples: “I have been to Indiana;” or “My hair is brown”) and gathered for a short prayer. 

During the prayer time, Lee Busick discussed the challenges that face youth today and told them that Locally Grown would help them through the challenges by helping them foster a relationship with God. “Life is never going to be perfect,” he told them, and his wife added that Locally Grown would be there for them and let them know each week that they are loved.

Locally Grown members meet Wednesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church, and then walk to other churches or public areas for meetings. For information, see http://www.lgmidway.com.

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