Three new staff members “with skills and abilities that will help us address new challenges and opportunities” are being welcomed to the LCMS Office of National Mission’s Youth Ministry unit.
The Rev. Dr. Terry Dittmer, director of LCMS Youth Ministry, made that observation about the new staff members’ skills and abilities in an Aug. 28 email to Reporter.
Installed during worship at the LCMS International Center Aug. 29 were the Rev. Steven T. Cholak, as project coordinator for Special Ministries, and Megan L. Loomis, as assistant registrar for the National LCMS Youth Gathering. Also welcomed to the unit’s staff as its project coordinator was Amy S. Gray.
Dittmer continued by describing Youth Ministry’s new work. “Not only are we doing what we’ve been doing — things like the National Youth Gathering, Lutheran Youth Fellowship Teen Leadership training, theESounce online youth-ministry resource [and] LCMS Servant Events all over the country — … with a lot of enthusiasm,” he wrote. “But we’ve also been given opportunities with campus ministry, confirmation, recruitment and retention of church workers, development of a young-adult servant/mercy corps and outreach and evangelism that will take time and energy … .” He added that “our new staff will be in the center of all we do.”
Cholak, of The Woodlands, Texas, began his work with LCMS Youth Ministry Aug. 1. Formerly, he was pastoral assistant and administrator for Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston. He is a 2004 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., from which he earned his Master of Divinity degree and a Master of Sacred Theology degree in Systematics.
In his new position, Cholak has responsibilities in a number of youth-related LCMS ministries — including campus ministry, the young-adult servant/mercy corps, and the renewal of junior confirmation efforts (working with the director of Youth Ministry) — as well as broader areas such as church-worker retention and recruitment, and outreach and evangelism. He also assists in the day-to-day operation of the Youth Ministry office and has duties associated with the LCMS National Youth Gathering, July 1-5, 2013, in San Antonio.
It is that Youth Gathering for which Loomis now serves as assistant registrar. Her duties also include assistance with processing all youth and adult registrations, housing/hotel assignments and on-site registration, as well as serving as a contact person for the Gathering.
Loomis is a 2007 graduate of Concordia University, Nebraska in Seward, Neb., where she earned her Director of Christian Education (DCE) certificate. She also earned a Lutheran teaching diploma in 2004 at Concordia House of Studies, Oviedo, Fla.
Most recently (2010-12), she served as DCE for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Ill. Prior to that, she completed her DCE internship at Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church, Phoenix, and held youth ministry and teaching positions at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Lake Mary, Fla., and Hope Lutheran Church, Orlando.
As project director for LCMS Youth Ministry, Gray organizes video and print projects, administers social-media accounts for the unit and for the National Youth Gathering, and manages the Gathering’s media team.
Gray is a 2012 graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, Wis., where she majored in public relations and business communications and minored in theology. She was a young adult volunteer for mass events at the 2010 National LCMS Youth Gathering in New Orleans.
“I am excited to have Megan, Amy and Steve on the staff,” Dittmer said in his message to Reporter. “There’s a lot of work to do and I look forward to them joining Mark Kiessling, National Gathering program director; Jim Lohman, Servant Events director; Krista Miller, Gathering registrar; and myself in sharing the Gospel with young people and equipping them to share Christ with their world.”
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison installed Cholak and Loomis and welcomed Gray during the chapel service on Aug. 29 — the day each year when the church commemorates the martyrdom (by beheading) of John the Baptist.
In his homily that day, Harrison recalled the biblical account of John’s beheading — when Herod Antipas ordered that act, which was granted at the request of his wife Herodias’ daughter. The young girl had pleased Herod with a dance at his birthday celebration, for which he said he would grant her any wish. Her mother suggested John’s beheading for that wish’s fulfillment. John had told Herod that it was wrong for him to take Herodias as his wife, since she had been married to Herod’s brother.
“We have young people like Herodias’ daughter,” Harrison said, “faced by … parents who are unfaithful, sometimes faced by … the great dinner party of the world [which] rejoices in rejecting everything we believe.”
Harrison noted that many young Christians also face “an absolute battle” on campuses, including major universities where there can be “virtually no Christian presence in faculties.”
“Your work right now for the young people has never been more significant,” Harrison told the new youth staffers.
“I want to assure you right now … that the devil can grab a heart at a young age [and] snatch the faith away,” he continued.
He also reminded them that “we will fall short.”
“But through it all, you will be blessed,” he said. “And you will be a great blessing to thousands in the name of Jesus. God grant that for His sake.”
Posted Aug. 30, 2012 Updated Aug. 31, 2012