Youth were required to attend the 11 am worship service, according to Alex Becker, minister for youth, but could choose whether also to attend the 8:30 or 9 am services. Coincidentally, the 8:30 service was led by eight young men, all high school juniors. Kevin Agner, an eighth-grader at Erwin Middle School, played cello for 8:30 and 11 am preludes.
Max Patel, a senior at Salisbury High School, preached at all three services. He is the son of Neil and Karen Patel, and his sister, Anna, is also an active youth group member.
“It was a great experience that I’ll always remember,” Max says. “I was extremely nervous the first service, but I continued to feel increasingly more comfortable as I progressed. It was such an honor to be able to speak God’s word. Although it was challenging when I first began, I am extremely happy with the feeling I had by the end.”
Of the congregation, Max says, “They all seemed happy and supportive of how I did. I sorta feel like it’s not what I did but rather just an interpretation of God’s word, and the glory is his. He gave me strength to speak his word.”
“I was happy for him and proud that he was willing to take this on,” his mom said. “It’s a huge undertaking. He continues to surprise me at how comfortable he seems in those situations. He continues to put himself in situations where he’s nervous, but feels good about it.”
“The kids really seemed to enjoy it,” Alex says. “I thought everything flowed smoothly. Max was quite nervous about preaching but we all had full confidence in him. If you’re nervous, that means you care. He put a lot of thought into it. He wanted to make sure he was saying what God wanted him to say. He didn’t take it lightly.”
Neither did the other youth group members.
“They wrote everything for the prayers and the confession and ran with it,” Alex says. “They made the service their own. They picked the hymns. They did it all.”