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Fire By Night prioritizes spiritual maturity, cohesion

This is a bi-monthy feature that will cover the varying high school youth groups of the students within FC. Contributing to this year’s theme, “We Are One,” this series will attempt to inform, highlight and encourage each group’s diverse system of ministry as well as provide information for those seeking ties to a congregation.

Clovis Evangelical (EV) Free

-Youth group name: Fire By Night

-Address: 2377 Armstrong Avenue Clovis, 93611

-Meets: Sunday mornings at 9:15 a.m., Tuesday prayer time at 6:30 a.m., Thursday night at 7:00-8:30 p.m.

-Number of students registered: About 40

-Regular attendants from FC: Breanna Jennings, ’15, Scott Jennings, ’12, Shannon Martens, ’15, Sarah Schoneman, ’12, and Maddie Yee, ’13

-Youth Pastor: Led by director Terry Johnson

-Annual events: Summer camp at Hartland or Wildwood, fundraising dinner and auction, Operation Good News, unofficial Saturday night ultimate frisbee

Background and itinerary

Clovis EV Free began when 25 members of the Fresno Evangelical Free Church, — now called The Bridge — started a Bible study in Clovis in 1982. It was their goal to establish a church in Clovis, and they were eventually able to see their plans come to fruition after holding their first service on June 13, 1982, at Mickey Cox Elementary School.

With services now held in their own building, Wil Owens was recently hired as teaching pastor earlier this year after their previous pastor moved to New Life Community Church.

The youth group is currently directed by Johnson and aided by volunteer parents and leaders; their former youth pastor, Sonny Martini left for New Covenant. However, the administration is not in a rush to find a replacement for Martini, as the church body is already in an adjustment period and must give time for Owens to assess each ministry.

On a typical Sunday morning, 15 minutes is dedicated to worship followed by 45 minutes where teaching is the primary focus. According to Johnson, the spiritual knowledge of the high schoolers permits the leaders to touch on more serious and complex matters.

“The students we have make this group unique,” Johnson said. “Our youth group faith-wise is more mature and most have parents in the church. It affects the decisions we make and the depth of teaching.”

Thursday night Bible studies are less structured and vary in activities, integrating guest speakers, interviews with adults from within the church, short video series and occasional game nights. This helps keep students unaware of what will happen next.

A huge goal for the leaders is to ensure that individuals leave high school with a solid understanding of their personal faith.

“We want them to grow their faith,” Johnson said. “By the time they graduate, their faith will be their own and they will take ownership of it and know what they believe and why.”

A word from the students

For Schoneman, the small group allows for deeper relationships, which creates a feeling of unity.

“The best part of Clovis EV Free is that you can easily make friends with many people,” Schoneman said. “It’s very easy to talk to them about their spiritual walk and what they feel called to do. With a small youth group, it makes fellowship with everyone deeper and makes sure that no one is left out.”

Like many regular attendants of Clovis EV Free, Jennings has gone to the church since a young age. He believes that the quantity of time he’s spent with the group adds to the intimate atmosphere.

“We’re really close and we know everyone and have a fun time,” Jennings said. “We’re not the biggest youth group and I think that is an advantage because we can be closer.”

Yee notices the youth group’s aptitude to carry out the work of God, binding its students in friendships.

“One thing I think our youth group is strong at is serving together,” Yee said. “When we have a goal to work towards together, we work well with one another to complete a task, but also grow closer to each other in the process. All of us join in and interact with each other, regardless of age.”

For previous installment, read the Sept. 15 article, Oasis provides comfortable environment, deep relationships.

For more features, read the Sept. 28 article,
Blood drive collects contributions, supports local hospitals (VIDEO).

Editor’s note: Due to the amount of contributions made by staff members during homecoming week, Mission Fresno will take a brief hiatus in order to receive more attention. It will again be published, Oct. 26.

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