As final preparations move into place for our Youth Sunday worship service, this annual event featuring our Youth as leaders of traditional worship now takes on the added role of celebrating the ministry and service of its Director, Andrew Mochrie. And, with this unique and unexpectedly well-timed opportunity to recognize and appreciate Andrew’s service to our church we just might be able to soften a little bit the blow of his recent decision to accept the position as Director of Youth Ministries at Central United Methodist Church in Asheville, North Carolina.
On September 17 Andrew and his wife, EJ, will be leaving our First Church community to begin a new chapter in their lives as they prepare to welcome Iris, their baby girl due December 14. This move will put them closer to both sides of their family (and Iris within easier reach of excited grandparents) and Andrew will have an opportunity to start a new Youth Ministry we are sad in a way that is impossible to fully express to learn that Andrew will be leaving us, we are also grateful beyond words for his ministry here and for the positive, fun loving, and inspiring presence he has been to our staff, our youth, our youth parents, and our congregation.
Andrew joined the church in September of 2014, and since that time he has put into place an active vision for our Youth Ministries that prepares it well to embrace a new era of growth. During his time here Andrew has made significant improvements to the infrastructure of our youth ministry, its curriculum, its programming, and even its space in the Justin that will continue to thrive and serve our teenagers as never before. (If you haven’t been over to see the recent improvements in the Justin Youth building, be sure to check out what some have described as the “coolest new space on the FUMCFW campus!”)
Putting facility and curriculum improvements in place that will now allow middle school and high school youth to have their own space, bring our confirmation class into the youth program in a special ceremony at the conclusion of Revolution Weekend in January, Andrew has solidified the broad-based support of our FUMCFW Youth Ministries by reviving and invigorating the Youth Council, and countless other visionary additions to our Youth Ministry, Andrew indeed fulfilled his promise as “the hope guy” and left our youth ministry better than he found it. Among all that Andrew is proudest of during his time here at First Church, he says the one thing that will stick with him most is the change in atmosphere in our Youth Ministry. “When you walk in the Justin, the atmosphere and climate in there just feels different — healthier — and that’s something that has been so important to me. I’ve talked about that a lot, and now I can just feel it!”
“As a grandfather, I can certainly understand the pull of family and Andrew and EJ’s desire to be closer to their family, but we will miss them,” said Dr. Tim Bruster. “Over the three years Andrew has been with us, he has endeared himself to the congregation, the youth, and their families and his ministry and leadership have been exemplary.”
At a called meeting Tuesday evening, our Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) appointed Jillian Voelker to lead the search committee for a new Director of Youth Ministries. Jillian is a longtime youth volunteer who served on the search committee who hired Andrew and chaired the committee who hired Kat Bair, our Associate Director of Youth Ministries. The committee will begin working with the Center for Youth Ministries Training (CYMT) to identify available candidates immediately. (Kat is currently still serving her three-year residency with CMYT). In the interim, Dr. Mike Marshall will supervise our Youth Program on Sunday mornings, in addition to members of our Youth Council and numerous parent volunteers.
This transition time will be made much easier by the continued and capable presence of Kat Bair, who has served our Youth program with Andrew since July 2016. After introducing youth and their parents to this year’s slate of exciting youth programming and curriculum this past Sunday, Kat will be instrumental in providing continuity for our Youth as the search begins for a new Director of Youth Ministries. Because Andrew and Kat have done such an excellent job in planning and preparing for the coming school year of Youth activities, we expect this interim leadership strategy to provide our Youth with continuity and continuation of all our existing plans for the coming year.
Please join with the staff, youth families and the entire First Church Faith community in prayer and celebration of Andrew Mochrie’s ministry while will be an unexpected and yet fitting part of our upcoming Youth Sunday worship.