Listen, Listen, Love, Love: Working with At-Risk Youth, an open letter from our own Rev. Terri Stewart. I appreciate what she’s doing – I’ve worked with at-risk youth too – so I wanted to share this with everyone. J.D.
Hi! I’m Terri Stewart, the founder of the YOUTH CHAPLAINCY COALITION, Seattle, Washington. I work with youth who are affected by incarceration. That can be youth who are in prison, youth who have left prison, or youth whose parents have been or are in prison. There is a consistent theme – prison.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”(Matthew 25:37-40)
I love working with these youth and their families. My typical week is filled with driving from Woodinville to Seattle to Snoqualmie to Kirkland to Yakima and back home again. At least it isn’t all in one day!
Why do I do this crazy amount of driving? Because we practice what I call Extreme Accompaniment ministry. An Accompaniment ministry is when you walk with someone listening and loving. You don’t walk in front, leading them. You don’t walk behind, pushing them. You walk with them, wherever their path leads. Sometimes that path starts at King County Youth Detention Center and leads to Echo Glen Children’s Home in Snoqualmie and then to the Ridgeview Girl’s Group Home in Yakima! It can be a circuitous route! But Extreme Accompaniment has the possibility to cause restoration, transformation, and healing unlike any other method.
The difficulty of this method lies in its intensity and commitment. There are few called to travel with a marginalized youth for 12 months or more. But that is what makes it Extreme! And it is extremely fun! Extremely fulfilling! Extremely challenging! And Extremely transformative!
Right now, the ministry has 3 needs: volunteers, donations, and committed, daily prayer warriors.
Prayer Warriors: I always lecture the volunteers that work for me that their spiritual grounding comes first—without great spiritual practices of Bible reading, prayer, and accountability groups, they will not be able to maintain a healthy ministry. Given that, I list prayer warriors as the #1 priority! The spiritual grounding of the chaplaincy comes first.
Volunteers: We need people to join in the task of Extreme Accompaniment. If you feel called to a 12 month commitment of one-on-one relationship with a youth affected by incarceration, we need to talk!
There are three exciting ways this can be experienced:
Neighborhood Youth Mission Team: This is the Extreme Accompaniment of following a youth from incarceration at King County Youth Detention Center to wherever that youth’s path may go.
Mentors in Mission: This program works with youth before they are incarcerated who are in the at-risk category—from low-income homes and with incarcerated parents. This is a weekly mentor opportunity/meeting combined with the mission work of creating a community garden for the youth’s family. A ministry two-fer! You help a child and you feed their family!
Kairos Prison Ministry Torch Mentoring: Here, you commit to participating to a spiritual renewal retreat within a detention setting where you will meet a youth and walk beside them for the time after the retreat until they move on to their next steps.
Additionally, we need administrative support to maintain our Facebook, Twitter, and web presence. A data entry specialist to do a few hours of work a week. And traditional chaplain volunteers to enter the detention centers.
Donations: Currently, all the financing comes from what little time I have left over to devote to raising funds. That means not very much! We need donations to buy supplies, pay for gas, buy Bibles, etc.
If you would like more information about any of these items or opportunities, please contact me at YCC-Chaplain@TheChurchCouncil.org or call me at 425-531-1756.
Rev. Terri Stewart
REV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)
Her online presence is Cloaked Monk. This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk. To reach her for conversation, send a note to email@example.com