The Grier Heights Scholarship Fund goes to provide young people from Grier Heights with the opportunity to join Youth ministry activities, such as summer mission trips and conferences. Those experiences enrich the faith journey of all involved and support our church efforts to build community across differences. Youth from Grier Heights have taken part in Montreat Middle School and Youth conferences, mission trips to Philadelphia and Chicago, and summer CROSS. This summer Grier Heights and MPPC Youth will travel on a Civil Rights tour through Memphis, participate in a Global Challenge in Heifer International in Michigan, as well as attend Triennium at Purdue University.
8th graders Samara and Violet met at CROSS and cultivated their friendship at Middle School Montreat. “At church, we learn that when we go on a mission trip, we are joining in what God is doing in the world. I think that is true and our eyes are opened to see God,” Violet says. “Every middle school trip has given us all the chance to bond and share our struggles. It helps us understand another person who is different from you, but we also have a lot of fun,” Samara adds.
Another way youth are making meaningful connections with each other is through the Mindful Drop-In. This series of workshops introduces youth to the practice of mindfulness and helps them develop coping strategies for managing stressful situations while claiming the lasting benefit of restoring health and balance. Samara serves as one of the leaders for the Mindful Drop-In, a position she has naturally taken to. “I love helping others, and my involvement at church has given me the chance to serve and become a leader. As a mindful guide, I have been able to help friends with practical ways to deal with anxiety,” Samara says. Violet is very proud of Samara for taking the lead in the Mindful Drop-In and regularly attends herself. “As 8th graders, it is hard to deal with stress and anxiety, and we all need this group to be more present,” Violet says. “Samara has taken on a leadership role, leading meditations for the group and encouraging youth to practice gratitude,” she adds. “I think that is really cool that she has found her place.”
The friendship Samara and Violet have cultivated has led them to consider themselves more as sisters than friends. They are there for each other during hard times and are looking forward to moving into high school and remaining close. “I go to a school where there are not many people from Myers Park Presbyterian, so church offers us a chance to expand our circle,” says Violet “It is so important to have people who have different experiences in life to open my eyes. Our connection is deepened through those experiences, and we can have more conversations about faith and things that go on in life”.
Violet and Samara’s advice for youth wanting to make those deeper connections? “Take a risk and go on a trip by yourself, without knowing who else is going. You might end up making one of your best life-long friends”.