As I reflect upon my own upbringing, I was shaped as a young Christian by my parents and family, but also by Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, and pastors who cared about me and our other young people. So that is why I am grateful to remind you to thank a youth worker this week. Here is the information I have received from Rev. Brian Durand, our Indiana Conference Associate Director for Youth, Young Adults, and Campus Ministry:

"This Thursday, November 5, is “Thank A Youth Worker Day.” Governor Daniels has proclaimed the day throughout Indiana, youth-serving networks and organizations are holding celebrations to honor those who serve children and youth, and leaders and other individuals are taking time out to call, write and personally say “thank you” to youth workers who are such a valuable and often unsung force in their communities.

"According to the National Collaboration for Youth, a youth worker is an individual who works with or on behalf of youth to facilitate their personal, social and educational development and enable them to gain a voice, influence and place in society as they make the transition from dependence to independence. Most everyone can point to a youth worker who had an impact in their life, formally as part of a youth-serving organization or informally as a pastor, Sunday school teacher, coach, mentor, or friend. We need to thank those who mentor our children and youth and celebrate their contributions to our communities.

"As the Church, we have the opportunity to recognize so many in our churches who help nurture our young people. This week (or next Sunday) would be a great time to express appreciation to: children's ministry workers, youth workers, pastors, church staff, Sunday school teachers, day care providers, preschool staff - so many children come to know God's love because of the volunteers and staff in our churches who give of their time to shape young lives. For ideas on how to say thank you, visit www.thankayouthworkerday.org. Join in showing your thanks.

For more information about the 2009 Thank a Youth Worker Day, please visit the TAYWD website at www.thankayouthworkerday.org, or contact Co-Chairs Brian Durand and Jennifer McKinney at info@thankayouthworkerday.org.

I applaud this effort by our state leaders to focus upon thanking youth workers, and I hope we in the United Methodist Church will respond with enthusiasm and appreciation.