Southern Hills Community Bank this month is spotlighting New Directions, Greenfield’s community youth Christian organization.
A Christian concert was held for Greenfield students in 1987. As a result of student responses that clearly indicated there were unmet spiritual needs among the youth, a committee of junior high and high school students and adults representing various churches was put together to explore what would be the best way to meet those needs. The group met, prayed for more than a year, and explored other established youth ministries, eventually deciding a relational ministry would be the focus.
A youth director was hired and Greenfield’s ecumenical community youth ministry began May 1, 1989, as one of the ministries under the umbrella of the Greenfield Area Christian Center.
New Directions exists to love and accept youth, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to nurture and equip youth to honor and serve God as they grow in the Christian faith. New Directions has had a variety of homes over the past 31 years, thanks to the generosity of businesses, families, churches and the community.
The first office was provided by local businessman Mike Zint, and youth meetings were held in the office, at the school and in people’s homes and backyards. When the Elk’s Lodge disbanded, the Clyburn families provided the lodge’s ample space (above what is now Catch 22 on Jefferson Street) as the youth center for 18 years until Hurricane Ike blew the roof off. For eight months New Directions met in the First Baptist Church and at the Trinity Christian Union’s family center, before moving to Steve Iseman’s building, another Jefferson Street location, operating there for about five years.
In September 2014, construction was completed on the Greenfield Area Christian Center at 910 N. Fifth St., which is the current home of New Directions, the food pantry and clothing ministry. The youth ministry operates under the oversight of the nine-member New Directions Youth Ministry Board which hires, advises and evaluates the youth director.
Through the years, five individuals have served in the youth director role: Tonia McLanahan, Kevin Gratz, Brodie Taphorn, Katie Elder, Todd Magouyrk, and now Tonia McLanahan is at the helm again. In addition to the board members and youth directors, the ministry has had hundreds of adult volunteers who have invested thousands of hours working with the youth, doing fundraising events and conducting a variety of other tasks to make the ministry happen for the thousands of students who have participated during the past three decades.
New Directions programming and the ages of the participants have changed since 1989 based on the needs of Greenfield’s youth. Originally, New Directions was for students in grades 7-12. Now, students in grades 3-12 are included.
Some things have remained constant, namely that all students are invited to participate. The adults involved want to be with the students and are committed to sharing God’s love with them. The programming includes special events, service opportunities and weekly programs for both small groups and large gatherings appropriate for each age group.
New Directions only exists because churches, businesses and individuals of Greenfield and beyond care about youth and have generously supported New Directions for 31 years. Visit Southern Hills Community Bank in Greenfield to see the a display and learn more about New Directions.
Submitted by Angie Trefz, branch manager of Southern Hills Community Bank.