Six high school seniors will anchor our 11:00 a.m. Youth Sunday service this weekend as they deliver reflections on their time at Glenn. These rite of passage moments are often packed full of both comedic and pull-at-your-heartstring memories. It gives them a chance to say farewell (for now) to a congregation that has nurtured them, and a chance for the congregation to be reminded of the authenticity and vibrancy Glenn Youth bring to our life together.
One of those seniors - Sam McKlin - who grew up at Glenn and is heading to Davidson College this fall, reflects below on his years with this community of faith:
1. Looking back on your time at Glenn, tell us about an experience that shaped who you are today.
In my sophomore year of high school I played the lead role, Harold Hill, in the Music Man. Prior to that performance, I had been in smaller roles in two of the previous youth productions. Since I only had the onstage experience consisting of about 20 different lines and some group musical numbers, I didn't know if I'd be able to handle the responsibility and commitment that comes with playing a lead part. In the months leading up to the musical I put a lot of time into learning the flow of my lines, understanding my character, and memorizing "Ya Got Trouble." Looking back on that experience, I can recognize how much it changed me. It taught me to be more confident not only in acting and singing but also to be more confident in school and in my own personality. I also learned that I can accomplish something difficult even if I've never had experience with it before, and that sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to learn something new.
2. Glenn Youth is such a tightly knit community of friends that feel like family. Was there ever a moment when you felt particularly upheld and supported?
Glenn Youth has been the best environment for me to grow up in. I feel constantly accepted and supported by the entire group. A few years ago at a senior high retreat, we decided to try a new way to bond with each other. We sat in a circle and people who wanted to share anything that was causing them pain or grief or stress from their personal lives could say it confidentially. You never know what even some of your best friends might be going through, and listening to each other and empathizing with one another drew our group even closer together. I felt most upheld and supported myself in that moment, and I know I was upholding and supporting my friends just the same.
3. You are musically talented and have graciously shared those gifts with the congregation. How has music enriched your life of faith?
Music has given me so much in and outside of Glenn. I joined the cherub choir when I was 4, and I've been singing in the church choirs ever since. Music is something that grounds me to my faith, and it helps bring people together. Whenever we hear "Amen," everyone in the congregation can hear Bill Mallard's voice and life living on in the song. Personally, music gives me a similar connection to God and to others by letting me express my emotions in a way that I find difficult to accomplish with words.
4. When you move away to college, a lot of stuff will get packed up with you. What “stuff” will you pack up from Glenn to take with you? What lessons and values will you carry from Glenn?
Glenn has taught me to be a kind, accepting person. Perhaps the best lesson I have learned from Glenn is how to listen to other people and acknowledge opinions other than my own. I know that trying to understand other people is the first step in making progress. My generation has to learn how to listen and understand before shutting down new ideas so that we can build a future focused on peace and empathy. I will need to enter college and the rest of my life with that knowledge in mind, and I credit Glenn and my parents for teaching me how to listen and understand.