Children and Youth Council established and working on behalf of our young people

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Youth group.

by Sue Kelly and Catherine Turnbull

Grace has established a new Children and Youth Education Council as recommended by the vestry and rector to oversee the educational programs for children and youth at Grace. The council met for the first time on February 22 and established its simple yet profound mission:

Serve God, love kids

Serve kids, love God

Church School kids and parents work in the Jubilee Ministries Pantry Garden at Schubert’s farm

The council members would like to introduce themselves to you.

Elizabeth Blondia: 

Elizabeth has attended Grace with her family since 2005. Almost since then, she has served the youth of Grace in some capacity, either volunteering in the nursery when her two kids were young, or teaching Sunday School to various ages. She loves the Episcopal Church and wants Grace Church’s young people to learn about and experience the beauty of our unique history, traditions, and liturgy.

Christy and Brian Joynt:

We are Brian and Christy Joynt. We moved back to Traverse City (our childhood home) in 2012. We immediately determined that Grace was our church home (quirky, open, serving, loving, and full of grace). We have two teenagers (Veda and Nolan). Our attendance becomes spotty during hockey & ski season. I love the mission of the council and hope we can create a space/community where children find comfort, safety, love and later remember fondly.

Sue Kelly: 

Sue is a retired teacher with 31+ years of teaching elementary and special education. She has an MA in Reading and Literacy. Her three children grew up at Grace Church and were part of the first J2A program. She was involved in setting up the first pilgrimage to Glendalough, Ireland. Sue strongly believes children have a natural spirituality and that church should be a place of safety where kids want to come to figure out who they are and explore their relationship with God.

 Connie Meyers:                                              

I find myself on yet another Education committee! Not because I have been forced in any way but I just so enjoy working with kids of all ages. I was an educator in Traverse City for almost 31 years, retired a few years ago and currently find myself volunteering in several classrooms during the week. I have worked with our kids at Grace in our church school program for about six years and have enjoyed watching them grow not only spiritually but, also as friends. I want to continue to be part of the growth in our program here at Grace and serve the children and youth in ways that will help them build a foundation for their spiritual lives.

 Abbey Nielsen:
My name is Abbey Nielsen and I am happy to be a part of this council. Being a part of a church family has always been important to me. I attended Episcopal Youth Camp for many years, both as a camper and as a staff member. I am looking forward to working with this team and watching the children of Grace grow in their relationships with others.

 Chris Post:

My name is Chris Post. I am a certified high school math, physics, and economics teacher. I moved to Traverse City in 1996 to start Woodland school. I have been teaching sixth through eighth grade students since then, amongst other responsibilities associated with a small nonprofit public charter school.

 Catherine Turnbull:

My family–Jeff, Hannah, and Clare Wescott–and I have been part of the Grace Community for 20 years. I’ve been a Lector and occasional Lay Preacher, and was Grace Church’s Director of Children and Youth Formation from 2011-2016. I’ve done some job-hopping around Traverse City, with stints at The Children’s House, a parent education program called Way to Grow!, a short summer at Chateau Grand Traverse, and even a disastrous two-week tenure as the ship’s cook on the Inland Seas. I am an occasionally published poet whose license plate spells Meta4. I believe that language and children and youth are miracles.

Youth Group teens begin their Urban Adventure with a train ride from Kalamazoo to Chicago

 The council members have decided to take on the following roles:

Curriculum Development-Sue Kelly and Catherine Turnbull

Diocesan Activities-Elizabeth Blondia and Abbey Nielsen

Recruitment of Leaders/Teachers-Chris Post

Communication with Families-Connie Meyers

Representatives for the Needs of Busy/Working Families-Christy and Brian Joynt

Vestry Liaison-Jeff Wescott

Sue Kelly and Catherine Turnbull will be the co-chairs for the council with Sue Kelly as the contact person. We welcome and encourage you to reach out to us or any member of the council with your questions, concerns, and ideas.

All children and youth educational programming will remain in effect until June 10, the last day of Church School. The council is currently looking for a co-leader for the J2A group to work with Elizabeth Wolterink until June 10. Catherine Turnbull joins the group of Godly Play storytellers for the K-2 group. We welcome her expertise in understanding the spirituality of children and youth.


God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world:  Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals.  Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start.  Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  (Book of Common Prayer, page 829)

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