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Element's intimacy fosters spiritual community, development

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.

Bethany Mennonite Brethren Church

-Youth group name: Element

-Address: 9161 North Maple Avenue, 93720-1406

-Meets: Wednesday nights at 6:45 p.m., Sunday morning at 11 a.m.

-Number of students registered: About 25

-Regular attendants from FC: Rayna Endicott, ’14, Callista Fries, ’15, Tynin Fries, ’14, Zed Fries, ’12, Austen Houts, ’12, Sabrina Henderson, ’15

-Youth Pastor: Jason Kinzel

-Annual Events: Hartland Christian Camp, UNITED Winter Camp, Welcome All Freshmen (WAF Week), Yosemite ice skating

-Mission statement: “Seeking to be a place where people are transformed into the image of Christ for the sake of others.”

Background and itinerary

Establish in 1994, Bethany Mennonite Brethren Church exists to be “a church that is exciting, alive, biblical and relevant,” according to their website.

Since many of the students that attend Element’s youth group have been in the church for the majority of their lives and feel comfortable with each other, Kinzel often allows them to use their gifts to benefit the group.

“The thing I’m most proud of is the students willingness to lead,” Kinzel said. “Different students lead different aspects of the ministry, and I love that. We have students who are gifted in leadership, and they are willing to step out of their comfort zone and really lead.”

The typical schedule for Wednesday nights includes a half hour of games, 15 minutes of worship and 30 more minutes for a message and gender separated time for teaching on Sundays. Kinzel believes the amount of time the students spend together is reflected in the group’s dynamics.

“Many [students] are very knowledgable when it comes to biblical knowledge, and they enjoy serving,” Kinzel said. “We have a pretty relaxed group; it’s a pretty chill atmosphere.”

Though Element’s group is tight-knit, Kinzel says this should not hinder newcomers who want to try out their church.

“Bethany definitely has a family atmosphere,” Kinzel said. “If someone is looking to jump in to a church where they can feel like they’re a part of a family, Bethany is a great place to be. I would love to have people come and check us out!”

A word from the students

Houts is able to serve her church body by exercising her talents, since she feels comfortable with those in her church body and the relationships she has acquired.

“I prefer to be in smaller groups and that’s what I’m used to at FC anyway,” Houts said. “It’s easier to get to know people when there’s less of them. I like the atmosphere and the opportunities I get to have because I get to sing and work in the nursery too.”

Having been a member of Element since she was a child, Tynin says she has noticed the long-lasting friendships that have challenged her to become a strong Christian.

“I love that our youth group is so small,” Tynin said. “Our group is like a family and I’ve known them my whole life so they’ve helped me grow and become mature in my faith. They have people are very good at keeping me accountable.”

For the previous installment, read the Nov. 9 article, The Wherehouse presents impactive preaching.

Editor’s note: This will be the last article in the Mission Fresno series.

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