Kids and their families now have a new face to recognize at Long Lake Lutheran Church.
Eric Nelson started June 1 as the Director of Youth and Family Ministries at the church outside of Isanti.
“The community and the church is fantastic,” he said. “It’s clear that it’s a community where, even though I’m going to be serving as leader here, there are plenty of other leaders in the congregation and workers that are tied through everything.”
Nelson graduated from Concordia University in 2009 and spent three years teaching first-graders in Fargo, N.D. He’s spent the last several summers at Camp Onomia, a Lutheran Bible camp, serving as interim program director last year.
“That’s where I got the itch to go back into youth ministry,” he said. “I’ve always loved education and I’ve always loved ministry, so this is perfect because it combines the two.”
At Long Lake Lutheran Church, much of Nelson’s focus will be on older youth of confirmation and high school age, but he’ll be involved with families, too.
“It will definitely will be the whole child, youth and family spectrum,” he said. “Everything from infancy to young adult.”
Right now Nelson is gearing up for the summer stretch program; for three Wednesdays a month, kids in grades six through 12 will get together for service, fun activities and a bonfire.
On July 16, he’s leaving with a group of teens for a week for the 2012 ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans, where they’ll explore, do community service, worship and participate in Bible study.
“I really like working with all age groups, so that was another part of the draw to be in a position like this where I can work with the high schoolers to the toddlers, and then get the two groups working together,” Nelson said. “When a first grader has a senior in high school come into the room, whatever they say goes. If they can get to be leaders in those little kids’ lives, it will go a long way.”
As youth director, Nelson said one of his goals is to connect all the parts of the youth program and ensure that all of the ministry the youth are involved in meshes with the rest of the church.
“At lots of churches it’s like you’ve got the congregation there and the youth here, and the younger youth there,” he said. “Part of my goal is to see all of it as a big faith family working together.”