Attendance at the St. Paul’s United Methodist Church youth group in La Porte City has grown from three or four kids per week to almost twenty in the last two years. Their ministry includes a weekly meeting on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. for middle school students and 7 p.m. for high schoolers. The youth group is planning a mission trip this summer to Chicago, and they are inviting the church’s support through t-shirt sales.
The majority of the young people in the program are from families that are economically at risk. Their pastor, Mike Gudka, said, “Many of them are hearing about Christ for the first time and learning what it means to be loved unconditionally.” The church set a goal to hire an experienced youth director, and that accomplishment has been an important aspect of the growth of the ministry. Now the church is training young adult mentors to be a part of the program.
They are exploring ways to build on this ministry to focus on family needs more broadly in the future. A Matthew 25 grant from the Northeast District has helped to support their efforts. These funds are made possible from apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.