One of my favorite parenting bits came from Bruce MacLeod, father of Heather and Allison. Heather and Allison are not just Bruce's daughters but were also members of the youth group when I was a youth pastor at Concord Bible Church. Back in the day, Bruce used to say to Heather, "Heather, you're my favorite daughter. Now you know I'll have to say the same thing to Allison because I don't want to hurt her feelings. But you're really my favorite." He'd say the same thing to Allison (switching names, of course).
So let me say right off that Heather was my favorite student in youth group. There are others I've told this to, but I really mean it with Heather. She always brought energy and joy to the group along with earnestness about her walk with Christ.
This month Mindy and I are going to churches with former youth group students. We asked Heather what she appreciated about Concord Bible Church growing up. She said she appreciated that CBC was a multigenerational. There were a number of women that took her under her wing (talking about you Magda Bedros, and you Nancy Walter, and you Val Gallaher) and helped Heather to feel safe. So safe that she often wore pajama bottoms to youth group (which I remembered as a charmingly quirky).
I asked Heather why she thought she had remained consistent in her walk with Christ and her churchgoing through the years. Many kids, especially during their college years, drop out of churchgoing for a time, some more permanently than others. Heather thinks that part of the reason may be that she became a Christian a little later in life, in the eighth grade, and everything about church and faith was new and exciting to her. She appreciated that kids were a part of the church and not shoved to the side at CBC. Through the years, Heather has continued to want to be a part of things in church and church ministry.
Heather met Matt, her husband, on their first day as freshmen at Berean Christian High School -- not that they were a couple during those years. After they married and came to Fresno, the Bridge was the second church they visited. There were a number of young people in the church, which at the time was called Fresno Evangelical Free Church (The church is still Evangelical Free; the name was changed to help the baffled).
When their first kid became involved with the children's ministry, Heather was concerned about aspects of the ministry and she made her opinions known. She sent letters voicing those concerns, and during discussions about those issues she was asked if she was interested in being a part of the staff and helping to revamp the ministry. She took the offer several years later after being part of a group of volunteers.
Heather was on staff for two and a half years but quit at the end of the summer last year, when the time commitment proved too taxing for family time. But even after she resigned, she maintained a good relationship with the staff and volunteers.
She and Matt appreciate the church's concern for and outreach to the neighborhood around the church. I'm sure that on staff or off, Heather will continue to be a blessing for The Bridge, as she always was at Concord Bible Church.