Investing in our Youth Englands help Fund Ministry Endowment
Allen England does some of his best thinking in the deer stand and some of his best discussing with his wife, Valerie, on the long drive from their Oklahoma City home to their hobby farm in Turkey, Texas.
A lot of the thinking and discussing involves thanking God for their blessings and asking Him how they might help grow His kingdom.
Before retiring, the couple spent their careers in public education, investing a lot of time and heart in young people in the classroom and administration.
They also invested in students at church, particularly when their children Sharry (98) and Jerred (04) were growing up. Being so attuned to each generation, their prayers and discussion led to establishing a gift for the youth ministry program in OC’s College of Biblical Studies.
“We made an appointment with our friend, Kent Allen (79, OC’s vice president for advancement). He was instrumental in helping us decide that the endowment in youth ministry was the path to help attract future youth ministers and assist them with the funds needed to complete the program,” Allen said.
The $100,000 gift seeds the Allen and Valerie England Endowed Scholarship for Youth Ministry. The timing is perfect with much recent research and discussion about “millennials” not participating in the church, and a generation growing up in a postmodern society.
“Our challenge to OC alumni and others who love OC is to not assume that it has been done before. “Be willing to take on a challenge and give toward a program you think is important for the future. If you can help in any way, don’t wait for someone to ask you.” Kent Allen (79)
Jerred, a youth minister at Del City Church of Christ, says he has seen his parents wrestle firsthand with these realities.
“My dad has always been able to tell stories about students whose parents are counting down until they are 18 years old to get them out of the house. Not like how Cliff Huxtable joked on The Cosby Show; these students genuinely felt unloved by their parents,” Jarred said. “There are really heartbreaking stories about students with really crummy or virtually non-existent parents. My parents felt it was important to have a caring, loving adult like a youth minister in students’ lives.”
Valerie said that all parents, engaged or not, can use all the help they can get.
“Parents today face even more challenges than the parents of a few years ago. The influences of the Internet, cell phones, Hollywood, and the media in general make their job very difficult,” she said. “Youth ministers are the connection many young people need to assist parents.”
Valerie said the church also needs willing parents and a supportive congregation to give of their resources and time. Jerred has seen his parents model that willingness, meaning the thread runs deep when it comes to helping children and teens.
“The ‘why’ to all this isn’t really to help youth ministers. It’s more about helping children and adolescents,” Jarred said. “I think they hope it will have exponential payoff in that, if they invest in youth ministry, that the youth ministers will invest in the lives of children and teens who need caring, loving and spiritual persons in their lives.”
Allen and Valerie say the biggest surprise in this process was that such an endowment didn’t already exist.
“Our challenge to OC alumni and others who love OC is to not assume that it has been done before,” Allen said. “Be willing to take on a challenge and give toward a program you think is important for the future. If you can help in any way, don’t wait for someone to ask you.”
View more stories from the Summer 2014 issue of Vision magazine.