BRYDGES was birth in the fall of 2001 out of the desire of the youth leaders of four churches to enhance the current operations of their youth ministries and to establish protocols and structured training conduits to produce equipped, committed and skilled youth leaders to assume positions in the Body of Christ. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive array of services to our children, youth and young adults and to provide needed services to our communities, particularly children and youth, thus connecting or bridging the Church with our communities.
Youth and youth ministries will become change agents in the Body of Christ and in our communities.
BRYDGES is a faith-based organization dedicated to the delivery of comprehensive enrichment services to children, youth, and young adults of the Church and our communities. We do this by providing a full array of accessible and age appropriate services that foster the emotional, social, physical, educational, and spiritual development of children, youth and young adults.
Goals – the goals of BRYDGES are as follows:
1. Spearhead a shift in paradigm – To have the COG 7th Day view service to our young people as a ministry and not simply as an ad hoc department, therefore give this important aspect of God’s work the priority that is well overdue.
2. Create and maintain collaborative relationships among the youth ministries, to equip us to accomplish substantially more as a larger unit, than as single, smaller efforts; and to afford readily available resources, consultation and support to all youth leaders.
3. Provide opportunities for spiritual, emotional, and cognitive growth of our children, youth and young adults.
4. Provide opportunities for structured and comprehensive training for current and potential Youth Ministers and youth workers.
5. Provide assistance to the youth ministries of the local churches in their establishment, and implementation of youth ministries that offer services to our children, youth and young adults on a continuum.
6. Operate beyond the boundaries of our assemblies by providing needed services to the children and youth of our communities.
BRYDGES Core values
- We operate with a Spirit of Excellence (Philippians 2:3)
- We edify the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12)
- We work without strife or vain glory (Philippians 2:3)
- We work with integrity (Philippians 2:3)
- We are diligent and timely in our work in the ministry ( Ecclesiastes 9:10 )
- We value our youth and partners (Acts 2:42)
The current church and community-based ministries that BRYDGES offers are:
Annual Leadership Retreat (April): Currently active and potential Youth Ministers and youth workers meet to address important issues that will aid us in meeting our goals. Attendees discover means by which to establish seamless youth ministries that serve our children, youth, and young adults. They are also and are exposed to information that will equip them to set goals for their youth ministries and design evaluation tools to assess their outcomes. Time is also spent assessing the previous year’s operations and conducting program and strategic planning.
Annual Bible Competition (December): Participants can compete at the children (8 to 11 years) and teen level (12 to 18 years). Partner-churches and non-partner churches form teams of two to three young people. Bible chapters are announced at the beginning of June to for approximately five months for preparation. Trophies are presented to the three winning churches and certificates of participation are given to all participating churches. The Bible competition is not limited to partner-churches only. Non-partner churches are required to complete a registration form and submit it with to a participation fee of $50.
Camp Higherground (July): This is a very special time for our children and teens. The program is set up deliberately to encourage the young people to display their talents and skills in the form of singing, dancing, poetry, miming, public speaking, drama, etc. Here they engage in a myriad of educational and personal development activities; they receive rich spiritual food and lots of good natural food and snacks, have lots of time for socializing, and engaging in competitive sports. We seek to have at least 30 percent of campers comprised of low-income children from our communities and children of inmates that we sponsor to attend.
Bi-annual Fellowship or WOW Conference (June): Fellowship and WOW conference allow ample time for the attendees to fellowship and engage in worship. The weekend is filled with powerful preaching, anointed praise and worship and a mass choir, topped off with a fun-filled social on Saturday night. The WOW conference provides a forum for intense learning. The WOW Conference offers workshops and anointed speakers that address both the secular and spiritual domains. These workshops and inspiring keynote speakers sharpen existing skills, and teach new skills and techniques. The conference equips the attendees to better serve those in the church and in our communities, and energizes them to give back through service.
Bi-annual New Encounter Retreat (June): The New Encounter Retreat provides an atmosphere that is an oasis of relaxation and fun. Here you have the opportunity for spiritual renewal. The program and activities provide practical and helpful strategies to living a wholesome and spiritually enriched life. Highlights of the New Encounter retreat are authentic worship, empowering preaching, quiet times, prayer walks, fun and games, and more.
Camp Higherground (June): We conduct a Sponsor-A-Child campaign each spring to raise funds to sponsor low-income children from our communities and children of inmates that we sponsor to attend Camp. These children are fully migrated into the Camp. They receive the same services all other children receive.
Youth Missions: Each summer, selected youth participate in week-long workcamps that are coordinated by Reach Workcamps (www.reachwc.org) in different states across the country. During this time the youth engage in activities such as painting homes, building handicap ramps, doing grocery shopping, cleaning homes, reading the Bible to the blind and elderly, do yard work, etc. Services are provided at selected sites with a need for volunteers to assist with work for the disabled, elderly, low-income families, shelters for the homeless, etc.
Youth Edification Scholarship (YES) Fund: The YES fund is a scholarship program that provides financial assistance to individuals between 18 and 35 years of age to obtain theological training. Through this opportunity, the YES Fund will assist with the cost of attending one-time workshops, conferences, short courses, and certificate and degree programs.
BRYDGES Leadership Award: Each year the partner churches have the opportunity to nominate a candidate for the BRYDGES Youth Leadership award. The selected candidate of each year receives a plaque at the annual WOW Conference, Fellowship or New Encounter retreat. The BRYDGES Youth Leadership award is geared towards the development of future leaders and works in conjunction with any leadership development training being received through the recipient’s local church. The recipient receives formal leadership training, serves on the BRYDGES Board of Directors for at least one year, and receives one-on-one mentoring from the Executive Director. Recipients also receive full funding to attend a leadership conference within the United States.