The 2000’s: Mount Olive Youth & Children
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech,
in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV
Mount Olive has always had programs and activities for their youth and children. The first youth groups, the Walther League, were named for the Rev. Dr. C.F.W. Walther, the first LCMS president. Pictured is Mount Olive’s Walther League group from the late 1940’s.
National Youth Gatherings
Held every 3 years since 1980, the LCMS Youth Gathering provides thousands of youth and adults the opportunity to come together as a community of God’s people to learn more about Jesus Christ, the
Christian faith, and their Lutheran identity. During the five days of the Gathering, youth spend time together in God’s Word, worship, service, and fellowship with others from across the synod. This event is organized by LCMS Youth Ministry in Saint Louis, MO. (Below: 2019 group with LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison.)
Through the encouragement of Pr. Sizemore and the leadership of adult volunteers, our youth have participated in six of the seven gatherings from 2001 to 2019. Two of our earlier participants, Johnna Laney Duncan and Chris Slaughter, have gone on as adult volunteers to supervise groups of our youth. The gatherings rotate among several large cities in the U.S. including New Orleans, Orlando, San Antonio, and Minneapolis. Houston has been chosen for the 2022 NYG. Lord willing, the recent vaccines will have curbed the pandemic so that this and other nationwide events can resume.
The years between the gatherings are filled with fundraisers and activities to promote community. An important component that prepares the youth and leaders is the themed Bible study. These studies are based on the overall theme of the upcoming NYG, such as Higher Ground, In Christ Alone, or Real.Present.God. By preparing in advance, our youth, and those across the U.S. and foreign countries are equally prepared for the event.
The mission of Higher Things® is to assist parents, pastors, and congregations in cultivating a distinctly Lutheran identity among their youth and young adults. Lay Minister Bill Boykin chaperoned small groups in 2017 to North Carolina and in 2018 to Kansas. The themes of these smaller regional gatherings were Here I Stand (for the 500th anniversary of The Reformation) and Sanctified.
Confirmation is a rite of the church in which a confirmand publicly affirms or confesses the faith into which he or she was baptized. This rite follows a period of instruction in the basics of the Christian faith including The Bible and Luther’s Small Catechism. This ministry is a nurturing, educational, and relational ministry of the congregation to help baptized children identify more fully with the Christian community and participate more fully in its mission.
In the past when Mount Olive was more of a local church, the 2-year Confirmation classes were taught by the pastor on Wednesday afternoons throughout the school year. But as the church grew into the 2010’s, the congregation spread throughout The Midlands. It became difficult for parents and students to travel the longer distances to church on a school night. Therefore, Confirmation classes were moved to the Sunday School hour. Pastor continues to be the primary instructor with assistance from the Lay Minister. The Rite of Confirmation is usually held in the spring followed by a reception. Each confirmand receives a personalized Lutheran Service Book that contains individual notes from many of our congregation.
In 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person classes halted and soon continued with at-home learning. The Rite of Confirmation was delayed to the fall. The 2021 class has both an in-person, socially distanced option as well as at-home assignments.
Children’s Sunday School
Christian education for children has been an important aspect throughout the history of the Lutheran Church. For almost as long as Mount Olive has been in existence, there has been an active Sunday School. Under the direction of the Board of Christian Education, teachers have cared for and instructed our children through song, lessons, and activities, to learn about key people in the Bible and how God was faithful to them. Many of the children have also memorized the Lord’s Prayer, The Apostles’ Creed, and The Ten Commandments to ready them for Confirmation Class.
Vacation Bible School
The Mount Olive adults have come together for a week most every summer to host a Vacation Bible School for our children, the preschool children, and others living nearby. After a light meal, the typical VBS evening includes an opening group presentation that teaches the theme of the day through drama and song followed by adult and youth volunteers escorting the children to age-group crafts, lessons, and games. On the last evening, there are cookies and ice cream for the participants and their entire families. In the last several years, there have been children joining in our VBS from our preschool, the community, and grandchildren of members who come from across the U.S. In 2019, we welcomed three children from China who spoke no English and came with their Irmo cousins whose parents saw our sign! We never cease to be amazed at how God multiplies our efforts and makes disciples in all nations.