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Mount Sinai Church offers youth program

This week I lived democracy by attending the Mount Sinai Church Youth Day program. Mount Sinai is the home church of many Camp Hill families I’ve met and grown to love over the course of my summer. I was happy to attend when a family extended an invitation for me to join their Sunday service.

I felt skeptical as I followed my GPS instructions around curves, across narrow bridges and deep into the heart of Chambers County at 7:30 a.m. I eventually found the church tucked away in the woods. As I parked and got out of my car, I was greeted by smiles, waves, and hugs. I could tell it would be a good experience.

Many of the youth flooded the front pews of the small church, playing instruments and singing in the choir. It seemed everyone had a place on the program and was ready and willing to participate.

The speaker of the hour was a recent graduate from Tuskegee University. His lesson title was the “Unwanted Chosen One”, based on the story in the Bible of a young shepherd, David, and his potential as a leader being overlooked by his dad and brothers (1 Samuel 16 7-13). The speaker related the idea of people identifying others by their circumstances rather than working with them to help improve their situation.

The speaker further connected the message to the youth of the church by reminding them that it doesn’t matter how things were or how they are for you right now because you have what it takes to change your future. I felt like it was the perfect message for the youth as they prepare to wrap up their summer and begin a new school year.

After the service, my friend, Latecia Boyd-Walton, told me the church was hosting a picnic in the parking lot and invited me to stay. So I did. She took me around the church introducing me to the pastor and many other people of the church.

“Hey Prichard!” the pastor affectionately called me. After I told him I was from Prichard, Alabama, he reminisced back to a time when he played football in the 70s against my mom’s alma mater, Mattie T. Blount High School. “They cheated us,” he joked playfully.

The picnic felt like a giant family reunion. There was an inflated water slide. The menu included hamburgers, hotdogs, bake beans, chips, catfish, funnel cake, and fried Oreos and an assortment of drinks. I sat with complete strangers who reminded me of my family and members of my home church. I was repeatedly asked “who are your people?”, “where you from?”, and “how did you enjoy our small country church?”.

There was a point when one of the young kids was stung on the forehead by a bumble bee, and she was screaming and crying in pain. One of the women of the church when out to the woody area and came back with a hand full of plants and rubbed the roots on the baby’s sting site, and she immediately stopped crying. “What just happened?” I asked the woman. She told me the juice of three different weeds could stop the pain of a sting. I was in a place where issues were solved with love and home remedies.

After spending the summer bursting out of my comfort zone, it felt good to experience some familiarity in this small, country church. I will never forget the warmth and acceptance I was blanketed with throughout my whole Sunday morning experience.

The Mount Sinai Church family helped wrap up my summer by reminding me of my roots and encouraging me to keep pressing on my journey. “We hope to see you again,” one member shared as we were headed to our cars. I have a strong feeling that I will be attending their church again soon.