“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
“I Stand Alone on the Word of God”
Foundation for Youth Ministry
When the Lodge was being built in 2004, then youth pastor Ken Leggett gathered a group of students for a mission. Before the concrete was poured into the footers, the students buried a Bible in the ground at the Lodge. That may sound… [more]
by Anna Gandy
I have this desire to have a simplified take away from ten days in and around Kusi, Peru, but I haven’t been able to stratify any thoughts to the extent of creating some kind of moral or theme. Maybe there’s a metaphor in the gigantic mound of dirt that the mission team and I spent days moving… [more]
Is Youth group for “Us” or “Them”?
This month, schools are back in session. This means that the pressures, stresses, and various realities of life as a teenager are intensified once again for our students. In response to the current generation’s growing needs for encouragement and emotional/spiritual support, many parents will be… [more]
Imagine children entering a camp setting greeted warmly by camp counselors. High energy buzzing through the air. Children sitting in the laps of youth and adult leaders, while listening to an interactive Bible story. Youth leaders raising a new camp flag every day and leading camp songs around a campfire. Youth camp counselors circling… [more]
The Sr. High and Jr. High students of High-Life recently spent a week serving in Huntsville. This local mission trip was an excellent opportunity to see, experience and actually contribute to the work that is being done by some of Southwood’s ministry partners like Lincoln Village Preservation Corporation, Lincoln Academy and The Village Church.… [more]
Being regularly exposed to popular culture through student ministry, what affirmations and critiques do you have of today’s popular music/arts?
Let me start with my affirmations (always the best place to begin). First, many of the artists of the generation are learning to use music, movies, etc. to address important topics head-on.… [more]
Chad Townsley: So the heart of the article, what I had in mind, is talking about the idea of identity—how it is that our students, your children, the students that you work with, struggle with finding their identity—in a world that has lots of things to say about who it is that our students are. But, what I want to start with first though,… [more]
What are some ministry resources that you would recommend for a college student today?
The number one recommendation I always give is Reformed University Fellowship (RUF). This ministry, being the official college ministry of our denomination, is dedicated to teaching reformed biblical doctrine. Another strength of RUF is the way in which… [more]
Q: What is the importance and purpose of marriage?
A: One of the best summaries around is this one from our Book of Church Order:
“Marriage was instituted by God himself in the time of man’s innocency and uprightness…as [God] created woman of man’s own substance and brought her to the man. Our Lord Jesus… [more]
It is that time of year again: vans full of kids heading out of town; teenagers ignoring impassioned pleas to wear sunscreen and youth leaders existing on less sleep than anyone over the age of sixteen should consider safe. Sound scary? It is student ministries. It is High-Life. It is the summer. And that means it is time for Rock River Retreat.… [more]
As the days get longer and continue to get warmer, we look with anticipation towards a another summer of ministry in Jr. High-Life. As the summer months approach, we first praise God for his faithfulness during the past school year of ministry amongst our 7th and 8th graders. During this year we had a steady influx of students from both… [more]
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”—Ephesians 2:6
At High-Life we like to see heavenly realities meet earth. We see this in kingdom environments throughout the year. Kingdom environments are geared to show the excellence of Christ through the ministries… [more]
In 2001, I joined the staff of Southwood and was privileged to join a church zealous to reach our covenant kids and their friends with the love of Jesus Christ. That first summer a young graduating senior named Chad Townsley sent me a note of encouragement: “Dear Ken, I am so incredibly excited that you are here. God’s goodness through… [more]
High-Life Winter Retreat
When have you felt most near to God? At what times in your life have you felt the Father dwelling closely with you? Consider just how sweet those times have been with the Lord, when he seemed so close that, as Donald Miller poetically describes, “You can see the lines on His face.” It happened for… [more]
For the last few weeks, the community has been showing up at the lodge to drop off their seventh and eighth graders for Junior High-Life on Wednesday nights. We’re off to a huge start already with nearly 130 students in attendance each week so far! At every High-Life, we will provide dinner, games, worship from our very own worship team and a message… [more]
Student Ministries believes experiencing and expressing grace is the best way of advancing Christ’s Kingdom in the lives of students. Sunday mornings are essential in expressing grace through Kingdom environments.
Southwood Kids! (PreK-6th grade)
With all that is changing, much stays the same. As Southwod partners with… [more]
I am on a ministry high. I just went to eat ice cream with a student and we talked about her summer, her fight with her boyfriend and how hard it is to trust God when life hurts. This is one of those moments when only these words seem to fit my mood: praise Jesus from whom all blessings flow. Every student I’ve spent time with is a massive sinner… [more]
I saw it again just this morning at the Medical Mall. It wasn’t but a day or two ago that I saw it last. Its’ attractiveness is undeniable and its’ simplicity is just as striking. What is it that I saw? I’ll give you a hint—it’s white, round and contains the outline of a great looking tree and letters that spell “HIGH-LIFE.” I’m… [more]
It is not glamourous. We do not get to stamp our passports. We will not travel to far off places. But from June 6th-10th a group of students in High-Life Ministries will drive down the road to spend five days serving our neighbors in Lincoln Village. These students and leaders will be building, demolishing, painting, mentoring, and becoming involved… [more]
From June 2nd to the 12th a work team of youth and adult leaders will travel to the one of Scripture Union’s many “street boy” centers, Kusi, just outside Yungay, Peru in the Andean mountains. This center, in the shadow of Peru’s highest peak the Huascaran, is home to around 40 Peruvian “street boys” who have been rescued from a life… [more]
On May 7th, 2011, a team of Southwood students, parents, deacons, and elders went to Camp ToknowHim in Pisgah, AL to begin revitalizing the camp. Camp ToknowHim has served as the Winter Retreat destination for High-Life Ministry for the past 9 years, and our relationships with Roy and Ginny (camp owners) extending beyond 10 years. The team went with… [more]
“Wait a minute … I thought Niña was already on Southwood’s staff.” Such a statement is certainly understandable given her extensive involvement in corporate worship and Children’s Ministry. But it wasn’t until April 18th of this year that Southwood member Niña Banta actually joined the staff as Director of Creative Arts. This newly… [more]
You can’t ask someone to write for Branches on the topic of “The Beauty” without being again attacked by my adversary with the question, “Who are you to write about the glory of a woman?” I ask myself this question an awful lot, especially given that I am a broken man but living in the midst of a home swimming in estrogen! That is the exact… [more]
Wedged between more seemingly popular commandments, we have this funny word and frequently misinterpreted commandment to “Sabbath.” If you have a middle child, consider this the middle “commandment” syndrome. It can often be overlooked while the other “siblings” get most the attention.
If we’re following the Biblical story,… [more]
A professor once told me (quoting a church father) this adage about serving Jesus. He said, “Obedience should PRECEDE understanding…” I remember shifting uncomfortably in my seat. Was he serious…? It SOUNDS noble, but isn’t this a foolish and reckless way of approaching life? You see, I’ve dabbled long enough in business courses… [more]
Since beginning my job here at Southwood as the Jr. High Female Director, I have been deeply cared for by the church family I have become a part of. Part of being cared for by this family means that I am hearing many stories of God’s work in this community, which are comforting reminders to me of His power and love. Being in a new place and job,… [more]
Sitting in the Lodge at the In-Town Mission team meeting, I started to have doubts about going on this trip, thinking, “I could just stay home with Tommy and Thompson this week.” I recognized only one of the kids and marveled that our leader was the age of my own children! As I sat in the cool, familiar darkness of the Lodge, looking… [more]
As I write these words, preparations for the final Junior High event of the summer are taking place. Messy games are being planned, devotionals are being written and key volunteers are gathering to serve the youth of the Junior High Ministry. As the summer draws to a close with this event, this is a great time to reflect on a few of the ways the… [more]
Years ago if you had told me I would go on a mission trip to Peru I would have laughed. If you had told me I would lead a youth mission trip to Peru I would have likely fallen over in disbelief. But often God has plans for us that are outside of our expectations. Years ago, before becoming a Christian, I saw mission trips as little more than adventurous… [more]
Recently, the rawhide and antlers of the Lodge were put aside and delicately replaced by china, roses, and Grissom High School senior girls and their mothers.
Serving tea and refreshments were Southwood members Jennifer and Abby Coleman. But what could easily be mistaken for a simple social gathering, turned into a opportunity to host women… [more]
Members Investing in the Kingdom
Southwood is not only in Huntsville for Huntsville, we are also in the world for the world. While we have a short term team of youth going to Peru in June and a team of adults in July, we also have others investing their entire summer serving to advance God’s Kingdom in other countries. Below are… [more]
Looking back through my journals of the mission trips I have taken to Peru, I am reminded of many faces, many emotions and so many stories.
Undoubtedly, each of these things are a part of my heart in a way that I sometimes cannot fully explain. From the very first trip, I heard some of the stories of how these boys came to be abandoned.… [more]
June 26-June 30
Come to the Edge, the greatest Jr High summer camp ever! Get ready for your minds to be blown at the best week of your summer. We will travel to Lookout Mountain on the campus of Covenant College in Chattanooga, TN. There will be great teaching from the word of God, worship music, fun skits and games, and great fellowship!… [more]
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” These are the words of Jesus to the apostles in Acts 1:8 just before His ascension. Southwood’s Vision is “To advance the Kingdom of God in our lives,… [more]
I was a 9 year old boy in the Panhandle of Texas playing with G.I Joe’s when saints of Southwood were drawing a line in the sand for the youth of Huntsville. The Lodge was a dream no one had envisioned yet, the program was simple and hospitable, and on the other side of the country, I was in the woods with my make shift M-16, putting it all… [more]
Do you know the new people across the street? This fall we have two great new interns who will be working with the youth at the Lodge. Their names are Jeremy McNeill and Aaron Shaffer! As you see these two new additions to our Southwood family, introduce yourself and invite them to dinner! Youth interns love free food!
Jeremy came to us this… [more]
Bill Harritt is widely known across the church as Director of Junior High Ministry. Bill began his tenure at Southwood in May 2005 and quickly found his place among our seventh and eighth graders. Bill is leaving Southwood and moving to St. Louis, MO mid-August to begin his studies towards a Masters of Divinity at Covenant Theological Seminary. Bill’s… [more]
After working at Southwood for over four years, I have come to know something about myself. I like a finished product and I like doing my laundry. I enjoy doing labor that makes me look back at something that is unfinished and help bring it to completion. I, however, work with people and I think we all know and understand that as people we are all… [more]
Mission trips are part of the summer landscape for our high school students. Two different groups boarded planes and flew south to live and work in Peru. A third group boarded SUVs and minivans and drove northeast to live and work in Lincoln Village for a week. The Junior High Project Sweat group will board a bus on July 16 and drive east to minister… [more]
The problem of success is that the more you produce of a successful formula, the greater the risk of becoming a parody of yourself. This is the precarious position Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and the rest of the gang find themselves in at the outset of the 4th Indy flick.
At the opening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of… [more]
We have a new face leading worship. He is familiar to some, not to others. When asking Jake what he has been doing with his time this spring, he will answer, “ivy.” The Pattons returned to Huntsville after four years in St. Louis, MO where Jake studied for his Masters of Divinity (MDiv) at Covenant Seminary. They have settled into a home that… [more]
“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” is the highly anticipated follow-up to the C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. In “Prince Caspian,” the Pevensie children once again find themselves magically transported from 1940s England to the mystical land of Narnia. The children are soon shocked to learn that… [more]