Middle School

Our goal is to provide an open atmosphere where students can know that they matter. Where students can be honest, open, heard, and accepted. We not only want to teach the way of Jesus to our young people, we want to show them what it looks like in their world with support, care and encouragement. 

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Youth News

Jeff  Message from Jeff

May 22,  2020

During these difficult times it can be hard to find time for anything outside of homeschooling, work, and finding some respite of your own.  In times like this we’re given an opportunity to exemplify to our children and families the things that are important.  Please do prioritize your safety and join us if you are healthy and completely comfortable doing so.

Looking for other things to promote the spiritual lives of the home?  Contact me anytime or check our church’s current online resources on Facebook and YouTube.  Just look up “WPC Tiburon”

Have 1 Minute to Read? – Upcoming Details 

 1. Middle School Zoom Gathering:  Virtual games, virtual prizes, virtual conversation, virtual prayer, virtually everything we always do!

2. Virtual Homebound Visits and Time Capsule (scroll down for more details )

    • Since we can’t visit the homebound in person, we’re asking our youth to do it virtually!  Can be done anytime; we'll give you a template to work off as you get to listen,  learn, encourage, and be encouraged by others

    • Please contact Jeff for setup:

    •  See a short example of what a Virtual Visit looks like:                    Visit with Carol

    3. Prodigal Parent Series #10: Worshipping at Home

    + 5 Youth Pastors in Marin talk about things anybody can do at home to bring their families closer to God. And you get to watch!

    +  This week - Simple Family Devotionals and Prayer Walls - https://youtu.be/WvBsvznfhA4

    + To be broadcast on Facebook and YouTube this week!

    4.  Wednesday Bag Lunch Program - (Details below)

    • *  THIS Wednesday, 5/27,   10:00am - 11:00am

    • *  Westminster Parking Lot, 240 Tiburon Blvd., Tiburon

    • *  If you're able, we are collecting bag lunches for the food insecure

    5.  Middle School Mission Trip to Santa Cruz

    When:    7/6 - 7/10, 2020 

    Where:  Santa Cruz, CA (housing at Peace United Church of Christ, 900 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060)

    Who:     Anyone having just completed 6-8th grades (we always need adult leaders also!)

    Why:     To remove the distractions of home and grow stronger together as a group in service

    Cost:     $50 (Deposit) or $350 (scholarships available, please ask)

                   Online : Select "Youth Mission Fund" from the drop down menu   GIVE
                  Make checks  out to "Westminster Presbyterian Church"

    RSVP:    Complete the registration form: https://forms.gle/parTeQbMoV6jGffXA

    Service Hours:  Your child would receive around 20+ hours of community service from this trip

    Have 3 Minutes to Read? - Coloring on Pentecost


    A couple years ago I was teaching a class on spiritual practices to a group of middle schoolers. They were supposed to color pictures that contained words or phrases to meditate on. They were way more into it than I would’ve imagined. I was afraid that since coloring is something children my age are used to doing they would brisk at it. They didn’t. I was surprised to find that many of them color regularly!

    Pentecost is May 31! In preparation for our Pentecost worship service, we’d love for you to color this coloring page If you have younger kids in the house this a great project for different ages. Have your children set the example for the littles! Then, please take a picture holding the completed page and email it to Bethany. ( ) We will use all of the pictures in worship on the 31st. We would like the pictures by next Wednesday (the 27th) at noon.

     Pentecost Coloring Page

    Have 8 Minutes to Read? - Parental Influence in Children's Spiritual Lives

    This week a group of Marin youth pastors are having a conversation about specific things families can do at home to help their families grow closer to God.  As we all prepare for many more weeks of no Sunday services, we thought it would be helpful to provide this resource to you.  There will be more to come about it.  In the meantime though here’s some “light” reading on why it’s so important for you to find ways to remain engaged in your children’s spiritual lives even as they enter adolescents and try to convince you they want nothing to do with you.

    Parents are still the most significant influence in a child’s spiritual journey…


    And here’s one specifically about mothers…


     Have 8 Minutes to Read?   Even More on Family Meals

    . Read this excerpt from the American College of Pediatrics: https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/the-benefits-of-the-family-table

    Have 5 Minutes to Read?  - May They Text All Hours of the Night

    We all recognize that adolescents aren’t normally the group of people to reach out in a time of difficulty.  I mean, that’s assuming they have figured out what they are feeling is difficult.  So, we’ve been trying to reach out through the channels that we have to our youth.  Unfortunately, one of the most effective channels we have, our contact work (showing up at games, clubs, schools, etc.) is unavailable to us during what can at least be described as strange times.

    Normally, our policy is not to send any messages to youth after 9:00pm any night.  I often times will schedule messages to arrive the following day.  We know that many teens have trouble sleeping because of the amount of screen time they’re getting.But, over the past couple weeks I’ve started to recognize that for many that is the only time they will decompress… after 900pm.  After “school” is over, after family has gone to bed, when you’re finally left to your own devices (in all senses of the word). I’m not sure if my corresponding with young people later is best but I do know that it’s the only time, so far, that any of them have opened up to me.Naturally, I felt vindicated when reading the following CNN article…

    These effects could last a long time.

    Steve Schneider, a high school counselor in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, said the trauma is already setting in amongst students, whether people can see it or not."The ramifications of this in the world of education are going to trickle for years," Schneider said. "This will follow any kid that's in high school right now. This will follow them through graduation. It's not short term."Because Schneider can't meet with his students, he's left to guess at how they're faring via emails or phone calls -- though many don't respond.

    Some of his students are angry. Those tend to be the teens who enjoyed school or the seniors who looked forward to pre-graduation events. He can manage those students because they're responsive.

    But then there are the teens he compares to turtles -- the ones who are so overwhelmed by the shakeup in daily life that they recede into their shells, close their eyes and ignore it all. That's the response that troubles Schneider most."We just have a lot of kids who've simply said, 'I'm just not going to do it,'" he said.

    Still, they're getting through it, little by little.

    When Schneider isn't counseling other students, he's checking on his 18-year-old daughter, a senior. He stopped outside her bedroom door one night when she looked glum.Without saying anything, he hugged her. She sunk into his arms and cried."This is so hard," she told him. But she's coping, he said, as best she can. Schneider sometimes hears her up in her room, singing and strumming her ukulele. He knows she stays up until 1 a.m. talking to friends, who she may not see for months.

    That wouldn't fly before the pandemic. Now, he lets her talk all night.

    Have 9 Minutes to Read? - Why Teens May Never Be the Same After the Pandemic

    Here’s a link to the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/16/us/teens-coronavirus-coping-wellness-trnd/index.html

    Have 5 Minutes to Read? - Opportunity to Serve Others Now (Wednesday Bag Lunch - details)

    This past week we’ve been in touch with families wishing there was something they could do to alleviate some of the suffering and also just to have a good reason to get out of the house.  At the same time, we’ve been in touch with our friends at Sausalito Presbyterian Church who’ve been hosting our hot lunch program about their needs going forward.  Since many of their volunteers are seniors and considered “at-risk” and many of the vendors who’ve been providing them with food have had to scale back service we thought you might be able to help in a small way.

    Further, the Marin Health and Human Services (our public health department) asked us to help so we could spread the word about COVID-19 best practices.  Since many in the homeless population place far more trust in churches than the government they’re hoping we can relay some information to protect that population with the meals we provide.  This is considered an “essential service.”

    This is what we need:

    • 1.  Brown Bag Lunch (in your bag please include)

      • * Peanut Butter and Jelly

      • * Thinly sliced deli meats and cheese

      • * Bananas, Oranges, Cuties

      • * Yogurts

      • * Hummus, Guacamole, etc

      • Soft foods such as:

      • *  Juice or Water

      • * Chips/Crackers are okay and appreciated

      • * Soft Cookies or other soft treats

    • 2.  Print and Drop the attached info into each bag            Flyer for Bag Lunch

    • 3.  Say a prayer for each bag

    • 4.  You’re also welcome to include:

      • *   An encouraging note

      • *  Sanitary supplies

    Feel free to make as many as you’d like.   We’ll be doing this every week for the foreseeable future.

    Special thanks to one of our high school adult leaders, Jeff Heely, who has volunteered to be at WPC  Wednesdays between 10:00am – 11:00am to collect and deliver all the bagged lunches.   If for some reason you need to reach Jeff Heely here you go: 

    Have 4 Minutes to Read?  - Virtual Homebound Visits

    As we all continue figuring out how best to liver during a shelter-in-place some of our friends and neighbors are having a little more difficult time than others.  For just about everyone on this email chain you live with other people.  Yes, your family at home may stress you out but at least you have someone in the home to talk to, laugh with, hug and hold.  For many who live alone that is not the case.  For others who are “at-risk” it is even more difficult to have any sort of real human interaction.

    So, we would love it if you could encourage your teen to give one of these friends of ours a phone call, a video chat, FaceTime, Messenger call, etc.  On many of our mission trips and weekend events we visit those who may feel forgotten.  We can’t do that in person so we’re going to bring the Light to them virtually. 

    We know this may not be the easiest thing in the world for a teen to do.  When we go to nursing homes and the like we normally resource them with a questionnaire and some talking points.  We’re doing the same this time and setting it up as time capsule to look back on.  “What was your life like during the COVID-19 pandemic?”

    Here’s what you or your teen should do:

    1. Contact   (or text) to get access to the sign-up sheets

    2. Use the Google Doc to help with the conversation: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1j5xhtl_SCQ8SlzewBWGKWrSBgRXN5Ad-HG4kvquRhXM/edit?usp=sharing  

    3. Send the info back to Jeff Shankle for archiving

    I’ll send more detailed instructions for those who need it after they sign-up.  And, of course, your teen can earn community service hours by doing this.  You’re serving the mental and spiritual health of our community in a huge way!

    PS – Have a friend, neighbor, or family member you’d like for us to contact?  Let me know!

     What is a mission trip?

    Nothing spurs on a young person's spiritual journey like a mission trip. What is it???

    It's a 5-day trip we take annually where we serve the community during the day and bond as a group through fun and spiritual activities in the evening. Showers come at a premium (and usually with a time limit), we make and clean all our own meals, we sleep on the floor together, laugh together, sing together, play together, and simply grow together as a result of serving together. It may sound strange that paying money to work for someone else while "roughing it" would be the highlight of your summer, but time and time again, for the youth with us, it.

    We always want to present our mission trips as a cultural immersion program where our youth don't just serve but also get a change to learn from the community that we're in. We have built relationships with the people we serve and serve with over the past couple years. We have been asked to come back every year by every group! Your kids will get to pick which service project they want to be a part of (they might not get their first choice, but that's our goal). Some of the things we'll be doing are:

    •  - Upkeeping a community farm alongside the homeless

    •  - Serving at a soup kitchen

    •  - Playing and doing crafts with underprivileged children

    We'll also be taking time for play and fun, quiet reflection, debriefing as a group, and worshipping together. And, since we're in Santa Cruz we'll of course have to take a couple of hours at the beach and boardwalk. We really want to immerse our students in life in Santa Cruz, especially the parts they don't see while on vacation.

    Mission trips are the springboards in our youth ministry that lead our youth into deeper connections with their faith life. the best part is it happens naturally because of the connections they make with their adult leaders and each other. These relationships (with God, their leaders, and each other) are spurred on throughout the year leading our youth towards taking active roles in the church, community, friend groups, and schools. For most of our youth, their biggest growth begins in Santa Cruz!

    We've been in contact with our friends in Santa Cruz to figure out what's best for them this summer. When we plan our mission trips ti's with a 60/40 or 50/50 consideration of what's best for the community we're serving and what's best for our students. It's an imperfect balance but our heart is in serving the needy and serving youth.

    This summer we'll need you to be flexible and have an open mind.

    Based on the feedback we're getting from the people there, it's currently like a 50% chance the Middle School Mission Trip will take place on its current dates. If the sites we're working with happen to change their plans, we'll change ours.

    It's our goal to give you at least 20 days' notice of trip departure. In other words, if we say we're going to leave June 22nd, then we would let you know by June 2nd. With so much in flux I'm afraid that's the best we can do.

    We plan on serving the people of Santa Cruz if for no other reason that all our partners plan on and expect us to be there. We don't want to let the people of Santa Cruz down. We also recognize that each of you has a different situation. Some of you can'ta wait to give your child this opportunity while others of you would rather your child sit this one out. Please know, we are going to respect every family's decision.

    We will keep you posted. I welcome your feedback on this whatever it is.

    Jeff Shankle

    Office:  415-383-5272 x218

    Have 7 Minutes to Read? - Teaching Grace in the Home

    One of the central tenets of our faith that may differ from others is the idea that we don't really do anything to reach God. Rather, God comes to us. Regardless of how "religious" we are or how much we know about the Bible. Despite the mess we make of own lives and others, despite how often we disappoint ourselves or others, we are always loved. Through the Holy Spirit, God's presence is with us always. Even more, God wants to be there with us especially in the messiness.

    We call this grace.

    You and I might be able to appreciate the grace God gives. That we are loved by something so holy regardless of what we do or don't do, but it may be hard to instill this sort of thing in the heart (not just the mind) of a young person. We all know that our faith can't solely be taught. It has to be experienced.

    So how do we experience it in the home?

    Just say, "I'm sorry" to your teenager more. That's a great starting place.

    "I'm sorry for the tone of voice I used when I asked you about your homework."
    "I'm sorry that I misunderstood the conflict you were having with your brother and jumped to an unfair conclusion."
    "I'm sorry that I wasn't sensitive enough to how tired you were from soccer."

    In today's world our youth feel extraordinary pressures from all kinds of angles. We want them to know that their family is a safe place. And we hope that they are an example of grace to others.

    If you want to make your home a hub of grace, try the following:

    1. Keep your personal antennae up for times when your own fatigue causes you to speak unkindly to your kids.
    2. when you feel like you've wronged your kids, tell them that you're sorry and ask for their forgiveness. Say, "Is that okay?" or "Does that make sense?"
    3. Make sure you are quick to extend forgiveness to your kids when they need to do the same.


    Coming Events
    Current Sunday Series - "CHANGE"
    ***Temporarily on hold. We hope to pick up where we left off with Brittany once shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted. Or, we may push to the fall.***


    As part of WPC's Core Curriculum, we will explore all sorts of different changes that happen in our lives. The time between 5-9th grades can be some of the most trying because of the amount of change happening. We want our students to be able to prepare pro-actively and thoughtfully both as individuals but also as a youth group. our consistent message will be, "Nothing can separate us from God's love." While our friendships, bodies, worldviews, etc. change, God's love for us does not. We hope our students are better able to accept that love and are better prepared to express it as a result of this semester.

    3/1 WPC High Schoolers Social Changes High schoolers give foresight to what changes are in store and what the lessons they learned along the way.
    3/8 Michael Kessell, Terra Linda class of 2018 Divorce and Family Breakups We hear with first-hand experience how a 10-year old and his older sister (with different personalities)handled the divorce of their parents.
    TBD Brittany Olsen, MA, MFT Developmental Changes We'll talk about what, psychologically, is happening to us and get tools for dealing with it individually and collectively.
    TBD Forrest Campbell, Middle School Science Teacher Spiritual Changes Our beliefs and Values are bound to change. How do we stay grounded and open?
    3/29 NO CLASS - Confirmation Sunday
    4/5 Sgt. Jay Shankle, Drill Instructor, U.S. Army Readiness for Difficult Changes The U.S. Army prepares 1000s of young adults to deal with lots of trials ahead. What lessons can we learn for a much less dangerous life ahead?
    4/12 EASTER How the Resurrection Changes Everything Nobody saw this coming and we have hardly any idea what's in store for our lives going forward.
    4/19 Daniel Grant, WPC Member, parent of 2 teens (more) Spiritual Changes The connections we make with our spiritual leaders can be vital. What happens when they change?
    4/26 Estuary & Ocean Science Center Climate Change As the planet changes around us, we'll reflect on our common humanity and the changes that affect all of u.
    5/3 Beth Daniel, MA (more) Developmental Changes Following up on our conversation about our personal development, we'll go further in depth about what it means to be a good friend.
    5/10 TBD
    5/17 NO CLASS - Graduation Sunday

    "God's Doors - The Fellowship Project" - 10 weeks to something deeper than friendship

    With middle school comes the introduction of adolescent drama to their lives. "Will so and so be there?" "Did you see them?" "He/She's trying to DM."

    What if our youth could find something different and/or (dare we say) better than friend groups, and cliques? Fellowship is a part of our faith heritage that stretches back to the beginning. What did fishermen, accountants, teachers, and others of different background have in common other than a commitment to God and each other? It was their commitment to each other and to living out the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. They might not have been bffs, but they knew each other and found support and accountability from one another.

    Fellowship is something different from friendship. It is knowing, this group of people (wherever they may be), will always be there for me. It's when we go beyond tolerance and respect to find real inclusion.


    To conclude our fall project our youth  painted some of the old doors from our renovation. They were displayed prominently on Tiburon Blvd with the message "God's Doors are Open to All." We're doing this so our youth can understand that the fellowship they have here is a blessing; it can be a blessing to many people in our community. What a great symbol this will be for all the thousands of cars that pass our church daily!

    Parents Corner - Middle School

    Middle school can be the most stressful and yet thrilling stage of a young person's journey to adulthood. Middle schoolers are growing in so many ways and are being given new opportunities for both success and trouble. There are 2 things we value that help inform all of what we do as church with middle schoolers:


    Relationships - We know that much of what is taught in church can be ambiguous. That's why it is so important for us to have well-equipped and screened volunteer adult leaders who spend time with middle schoolers in their world.  So while we offer strong programs on Sunday mornings and at other times, what drives our focus is the time we get to spend with middle schoolers over a burger and fries, at a movie, or simply cheering them on at the events that they're involved in. We not only want to teach the way of Jesus to our young people, we want to show them what it looks like in their world with support, care, and encouragement.


    Service - We think middle schoolers have gifts and passions that should be used in the church and the community. Our middle schoolers do everything from write material for our worship services that create whole interactive festivals to commemorate certain parts of the year. With so much creativity and energy our middle schoolers are very much an integral part of the entire worshipping community of Westminster.  They are also involved in the community through various service projects that take place throughout the year and an annual Spring Break mission trip. 
    Serving Others - Middle School
    Service projects for middle schoolers take place throughout the year. All are invited to participate. 


    Please check with Jeff for Serving Others activities.