Today, I witnessed a special event held by the Del City church of Christ once a year for the young people of the church, Evidently, this special event has been held once a year for many, many years because they said two of the five elders had participated in it when they were in high school. It is a special tradition at this church, but since I haven’t been in America and just recently came here, I hadn’t seen it.
To begin with, for those of you who are not Americans, I need to explain something about large churches in America. Many large churches hire a special minister just to help the teenagers. They call him a youth minister. They get the teenagers of the church together for special events like special devotions where they sing only the songs the teenagers like, trips to amusement parks, trips to Christian camps, trips to Bible competitions, etc. The younth minister helps the teenagers through the very confusing years of youth. The youth minister preached this morning at church because he did something special with the whole church for the young people.
They usually observe this tradition in May, but they were unable to do it this year because of the quarantine. For quite a while, this church was only meeting online, but now, we are back every Sunday and have worship together as well as online worship that others who can’t get out of their houses can participate in. If you want to see what happened today online, you will be able to find it on the Del City church of Christ Facebook page because they post videos of every Sunday morning there now.
The ceremony they did today is considered “passing the torch” from the seniors who graduate from high school to the seventh graders. The seniors are now part of another group of the church, and the seventh graders are part of the youth group. For these seniors, it was good for them to do this because this year was their last year of high school, and they were unable to finish it and have a regular graduation with their classmates. At a regular graduation ceremony at the high schools, the seniors dress up in scholar’s caps and gowns and each goes across the stage to get their diploma in front of their families and friends but high schools didn’t have graduation this year because of the quarantine. Graduation is an extremelyimportant life event, and it makes me sad for the senors this year. However, the church here is helping them through this time.
During the ceremony, the seniors wore their scholar’s gowns. The elders stoond on the stage with Bibles. The youth minister called the names of the seniors, one at a time, and then the senior came to the stage, was congratulated by on eof the elders and handed a Bible by one of the elders.
After that, they invited the seventh graders to come to the front and sit on the front pew of the church. Next, the youth minister called the name of a seventh grader. That seventh grader came to the front. A senior also came ot the front. An elder gave a diploma to the senior, and the senior gave it to the seventh grader inducting them into the youth group. It was a little funny at first because the first seventh grader didn’t know what to do. He got his diploma and kept wandering around on stage like “where do I go now?” The youth minister had to tell him to go sit on the front pew again. He explained that these new young people needed a youth minister for a reason. They are fresh out of elementary school, and a lot of things are new for them, and this youth minister will be giving them a lot of guidance.
After that, they had a slide show that was very nice. It was of each of the seniors. For each senior, they had collected baby pictures, elementary school pictures, etc., pictures of them growing up. There was a slide show showing each of the seniors grown up. It was really nice. I was watching it with my daughter and realizing my kids never got anything like this because we were overseas and they were homeschooled.
When they graduated, I made a special time for them, but there wasn’t any big celebration of them at church or at a high school. I felt bad realizing my kids had missed anything like this. When my youngest daughter graduated from the language school at Seoul University, she had a graduation, and I wanted to go, but the scheduled it when I was teaching classes at Korea Christian University, my job. She told me not to bother coming because none of the other parents would be there. She was right that the others parents weren’t there because all the students were international students from all over the world, but I really wanted to go anyway.
My two oldest kids took their GED test to graduate from high school. My oldest son went to high school in America his senior year while we were still in Romania. I felt bad because he was extremely talented and was in several of their shows, but we were in separate countries, and I didn’t get to see him. (He was in a show in Romania, though, and I got to see that one.) They wouldn’t let him graduate because he had been homeschooled, so he had to take his GED to finish. The problem was that he had made extremely good grades, and they refused to accept his records because he would have been their valedictorian, and they didn’t want a homeschooled student to be valedictorian. They said he could attend classes, but not graduate or have a class standing. My second daughter didn’t have to take the GED because we weren’t overseas by that time, but she was going through terrible culture shock at Warren high school in Ohio. The students were being downright creepy. She went into the bathroom one day, and there were a big bunch of girls in there drinking blood. They told her they were vampries. We were all having a hard time adjusting to the people with nose rings and tongue rings that had just recently gotten popular in America. She also had a teacher who was gay, and when he had left America, that had not been acceptable behavior, and it was also not acceptable in Romania where we had been. They were not even allowed on TV before we left. I am not sure what else was upsetting her, but when she gave me her long list of things that upset her and asked not to go back to school, I gave her my permission to drop out and take the GED. My third child did high school online, and there was no graduation ceremony for students online either, but I tried to make a celebration for him.
None of the lack of graduation ceremonies hurt my kids in the long run because they all have very good jobs, but this morning, I felt a lack for them that I don’t know if they feel or not. I wasn’t born and raised all in one place, and neither were my kids. We all give up certain things when we move around. These students this morning were very lucky to be born and raised in the same place and able to graduate from high school. I am sorry they didn’t have their regular graduation ceremony at school, but they got their ceremony this morning.
After the ceremony, the youth minister gave a special sermon. The youth minister is actually a really good preacher. He had a lot of interesting things to say I understand why they hired him to be the youth minister. My daughter actually called him “charismatic.” It was a special Sunday for the graduating seniors at Del City church of Christ. I am thankful we are in Oklahoma because the problems my daughter had at Warren high school in Ohio are not prevalent here. We came here because the people think more conservatively. We want to live in a place where people are looking for purity inside, and many people in Oklahoma are. The churches are big and reaching out to others. These young people were blessed by the church this morning when their high schools didn’t because of the quarantine. If you want to see the ceremony, go to the Facebook page for the Del City church of Christ.