By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer
Service and relationship building are two primary goals of Spiritual Life’s Urban Missions and youth ministry teams.
Urban Missions partners with Waco organizations to provide community service opportunities to Baylor students, and Youth Ministry Teams connect student groups to serve in local churches through worship, youth ministry and other forms of practical experience.
Both programs are student-led and run, and consist of teams that go out to serve together on a weekly basis. Interest meetings for these groups were held this past week, but Youth Ministry Teams has a signup deadline of Sept. 5 and Urban Missions is considering an additional interest session.
Lee Ann Robelia, coordinator for leadership development and youth ministry teams, has been at Baylor for nearly ten years — four spent working with youth ministry, and this being her first year with Urban Missions. She’s a Waco native and said she loves the opportunity to serve the place where she grew up.
“I love Waco and love seeing the community’s different aspects — it’s been really neat over my lifetime to see different sides of Waco,” Robelia said. “I love being able to connect Baylor students to my hometown.”
Robelia appreciates how the Urban Missions program seeks to reach out and interact with the community around Baylor, partnering with local organizations to serve kids, the elderly, those with special needs and others. Partnerships include Mission Waco Afterschool, Friends for Life, Salvation Army and many others.
“We’re supporting organizations that are already doing really great things in the community,” Robelia said. “We want students to be connected with the community we’re a part of that goes beyond the Baylor bubble — we love being able to facilitate that.”
Canyon Lake junior Jillian Schley has been involved in leading worship for seven years and joined youth ministry teams her freshman year to continue her involvement in ministry.
“Coming to Baylor and knowing the impact my own youth group had on me, I knew I wanted to continue leading worship and staying plugged in to youth ministry,” Schley said. “I love pouring into Waco’s youth in a fun and intentional way.”
Youth Ministry Teams help lead worship and small groups, as well as deliver testimonies to local churches, and take part in Disciple-Now retreats across Texas. Schley said she enjoys the community aspect of youth ministry teams, and especially appreciates all the work that the program does for the Waco community.
“Working in youth ministry alongside others whose hearts are on fire for God and youth is a blessing I count twice,” Schley said. “I believe that seeking God’s will for Waco will bring our campus together and impact the community in remarkable ways.”
Both Urban Missions and youth ministry teams seek to expand and grow their programs this year. Urban Missions plans to continue connecting with Waco partnerships and implement service projects on one Saturday every month. Youth ministry teams is planning for something new dubbed “PB & Jam Sessions”, which Schley didn’t want to spoil but believes will be very exciting.
Both Robelia and Schley encourage new students to connect with on-campus spiritual life programs by visiting the Bobo Spiritual Life Center and looking for opportunities to serve others.
“I would encourage freshmen to explore their vocational calling and use their gifts for the Kingdom’s cause,” Schley said. “By emerging yourself in this place and welcoming guidance from the Holy Spirit, you will change lives and experience real growth in ways you never anticipated.”