A different kind of youth

Mary Atkinson · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Although the West Liberty's Community Youth Group (CYG) is sponsored by many local churches, denomination does not play a dominate role.

In fact, some people may find their activities somewhat unorthodox.

Grades 6-12, instead of attending regular Sunday services it meets Sunday evenings. CYG has its own way of learning the teachings of Jesus and fellowship.

Meetings begin with fun and games, then the youth join in worship with CYG's own band. Later, they break down into groups to go over a prepared lesson with an adult leader.

Recreation is also a part of the program. For example, they held "Summer Fun Days" on Aug 18 with a slip -n- slide, water guns, water balloons and, of course, food. As always, parents are welcomed to all the events.

But wait, there's more.

Once a year, the group travels to a planned destination and, with the collaboration of other youth groups, performs charity work such as painting or cleaning up a run down area.

Becca Heckman, 17, said she gets more than just a deeper, meaningful, faith from participating in this group.

"The best thing I have taken from it is just to be happy with what you have because there are people in the world that don't have the same thing that you have," she said. "You have it a lot better than you think most of the time."

She said her group once visited an Indian reservation where there was no electricity or running water.

"They didn't even have anybody picking up their garbage," Heckman said. "It made me realize that I have it very nice here."

She said her participation in the group has given her a different perspective on happiness.

"It shows me a different type of joy," she said. "There's happy and there's joy, and joy comes from the little things. You really see that a lot."

Heckman said a lot of the lessons are geared toward helping you make good choices and that her experience with the group has helped her in that aspect.

"There is a lot of deep, deep topics that we discuss, faith-wise it really helps you reflect on your life and what you can do to make your life better. It helps me believe what I want to believe because there is this really strong group behind me," she said.

Jodi Kelly is the leader of the group and said CYG started in 2000. She said she and a few others went to all the leaders of the churches and they all agreed it would be nice to have a non-denominational group whose members all believe in the same basic things.

"We all believe in the same thing," she said. "But we practice different things and we don't dwell on the differences of religion. We all believe that Jesus Christ is our savior. We all believe that doing good is what we are supposed to do, and as a Christian we are supposed to do good things for other people - we are supposed to serve other people."
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