Soul of 78- Stuart Branstetter

“I’ve been the youth pastor here at First United Methodist Church for about five years now. I grew up in Panama City, Florida, and first got connected with FUMC several years ago, when I came to an event called Impact to serve as a college leader. After that, I did a summer internship with the church, and the rest is history.”

“We’ve been to El Salvador, Queens, New York, Panama City, and Mobile. Next week we will be heading to do some mission work in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico. Then we’ll be camping in the Grand Canyon for a couple days. So, this will be my fifth mission trip with the youth here.”

“The biggest thing that really keeps me doing what I’m doing is this one defining moment that a teenager can experience. And that moment is when they realize that they don’t have to follow everybody else. They don’t have to go to parties, to be the most popular kid. When they understand that they can chase after God, and everything’s gonna be alright…that’s when they can truly be themselves. Not all kids get it, but the ones that do, make it all worth it.”

“My goal through the youth program here is to just really guide and lead students in a way that they can develop their own faith. I think a lot of times in church, we preach, we teach, follow this faith. For me, I always tell my students to have more questions than answers. Don’t be satisfied when someone tells you an answer – go and look it up yourself. We want to create great Christian followers, not great church-goers. We try to show our kids that there is life outside of church. There are people outside these walls that need to be reached. And a lot of times, unless you go to them, they’re not gonna come to you.”

-Stuart (AKA Stu) Branstetter, Youth Pastor as First United Methodist Church

#Soulof78 #78Magazine

Photo and Interview by Blakeney Cox

 

 

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