Instilling service in the youth

The One80 Teen Ministry youth making cards for nursing home residents



ST. PETERSBURG – The One80 Teen Ministry at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church is serious about serving the community. Last Saturday, March 18, more than 6o youth participated in the ministry’s first Servefest, where they went out and served their community.

From picking up trash that littered the streets, to mowing lawns, to spending time at a nursing home, the youth got their hands dirty and loved every minute of it.

“We’re trying to make sure that our kids understand that as a part of their Christian witness, they have a responsibility and duty to serve humanity,” said Youth Pastor Shawn Thomas.

When looking for an area to serve, Thomas’ first thought was the Bartlett Park community. He was looking for an area with a recreation center, a nursing home and plenty of senior citizens living nearby. Using the Frank Pierce Recreation Center as home base, the teens, with adult supervision, spread out through the neighborhood while some stayed behind to help out with the clothes giveaway.

“It’s an opportunity for our youth to understand the value of serving humanity,” he said.

Thomas has been a youth pastor at Mt. Zion for more than three years. He always felt the call to pastor, and the population he loved the most was the youth.

“I always have had an infinity for working with young people to help them sort of get it right and not make some of the mistakes that myself and others made as they were growing up,” he said. “If we can get them to do it right and really teach and train them… our church, our community and our society is in good hands moving forward.”

The ministry tries not to have too many events just at the church. Their goal is to get out into the community so they can help awaken a social consciousness in the youth.

With the motto of “being spiritually connected, socially conscious, smart and cultured,” Thomas feels they are doing a good job in instilling those qualities.

One part of the morning’s festivities led the youth over to the South Heritage Health & Rehabilitation Center to spend time with the nursing home patients. Close to a dozen residents came to watch the kids sing praises and listened to the Word of God.

Names were collected and each resident present received a handcrafted card from the kids at the end of the workday.

“They know what goes on in their community and they’re active in making a difference and making a change,” finished Thomas.

The youth ministry was joined by members of City On A Hill Church and youth from the AKA AKAdemy and the Pathfinders program.

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