Inspiring stories of Young People’s Ministry

Miriam’s call to serve young people within the church began in Mexico. It was Christmas time, and she and her brother were saddened that they could not be with their mother, who was serving as a pastor in the United States. In response to their sadness, Miriam’s mother told them to find a place to share God’s love during Christmas. Miriam and her brother found an orphanage, where they organized a Christmas dinner for the kids. With the help of their local Methodist Church’s youth, they were able to organize the dinner for the orphanage. It was at this moment that Miriam felt the call to serve young people. In sharing God’s love, Miriam also experienced God’s love through her interaction with the kids. Through their smiles and gratitude, Miriam received God’s love. This moment formed her work now, as she is creating a space for young people in Selma to share and come together.

Miriam Peralta De Garcia is currently coordinating the young people’s ministries at Selma United Methodist Church. Her husband, Cesar Garcia, is currently serving as the Pastor of the church.
 
On arriving at Selma United Methodist Church, Miriam was greeted with young people that were interested in connecting with each other and learning more about faith, life, and current events. Once the pandemic hit, things took a pause. However, the drive to create a space of connection was still there as meetings moved to Zoom. During the reopening process, Miriam began leading the young people in a curriculum titled, “Jesus is,” which seeks to unpack who Jesus is in the Bible. Miriam also participated in the United Methodist Women’s Mission U Training Program for their study, “Witness in the Kin-dom: Living into the Church’s Moral Witness Through Radical Discipleship.” From the Mission U Training Program, Miriam was inspired to connect the curriculum of “Jesus Is” to the Derek Chauvin trial and engage in that connection with her young people. Miriam seeks to illuminate Jesus Christ and is learning with her youth to see Christ even in the midst of violence.
 
The reopening and reintegration process has not been easy. However, Miriam continues to tell the young people of Selma that she is there for them. Even if it is just one young person that shows up to the Zoom discussion, Miriam continues to give it her all. Miriam hopes to continue having difficult conversations about current events with the young people. Her intention is to create a safe space for conversations- a space where her and the young people in Selma can see where God is leading them into the future. Miriam reminds us that we are all witnesses to God’s love in the world and that our witness can make a change in the lives of others.
 
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(In order to build solidarity and connect young people’s ministries between local churches within the California-Nevada Conference, the Conference Committee on Young People’s Ministry is seeking to illuminate various young people’s ministries around the conference. This is first in a series of stories in young people’s ministry.)
 


Rev. Dr. Felicisimo Cao serves as the Director of Camping and Retreat Ministries and Young People’s Ministry for the California-Nevada Conference and is staff resource for the Task Force on Children’s Ministry, Conference Committee on Young People’s Ministry.
Henry Pablo, III serves as a member of the Conference Committee on Young People’s Ministry, as the the leader of the Peace with Justice ministry area on CCYPM, and as the coordinator of English worship services at Riverside UMC in Sacramento.  He is finishing his Master of Divinity and Master of Arts at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and is concluding his Field Education program with our Office of Camping and Retreat Ministries and Young People’s Ministry.

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