New Poetry Group Is The Missing Piece Of Messiah Youth Programming
If there’s one thing Messiah Baptist is not lacking, it’s activity. From dance groups to choir ensembles, credit unions and outreach groups, they seem to have all bases covered.
Yet members believed a key audience of the church seemed to be missing.
Male youth participation in programming is low. Veronica Truell, Messiah’s youth minister, said that while boys do participate in their programs, girls outnumber the males.
Truell expressed a need to Chris McWhite, a member of the church, for a male-focused program. They agreed Messiah provided many outlets of expression for girls, but the boys “did not have a place.”
That’s when McWhite came up with the idea of a youth poetry group for boys.
“Your Roots Are Showing” is the working title for the male youth poetry group. Still in its inception stage, the group is open to middle and high school aged teens.
“A lot of children, boys in particular, are never asked what their opinions are,” McWhite said. Based on this notion, McWhite said a writing program seemed to fit the bill.
The program’s title signifies where the writer will draw their inspiration from, and the growth they will experience from writing.
McWhite wants the writers to creatively acknowledge their roots, both new and old. The title refers to the uncalled embarrassment some people face during growth, McWhite said.
“When you have the newest growth of your hair, it’s the newest but also the strongest,” McWhite said. “Sometimes people are embarrassed, say for instance, of their baby hair. But if the roots are not there, everything else falls apart.”
Currently, McWhite is relying on word of mouth to spread the news of the new program. His primary concern is making sure the teens are comfortable.
McWhite wants each meeting to also relate back to the word of God.
For the month of February the group focused on the word “love,” both apt given the month’s holiday, and that “love” is used around 30 times in the Book of Psalms, McWhite said. He hopes each month the boys can focus on a word or theme, expressing what it means to them. The March focus was “beauty.”
McWhite said he does not initially plan to cover formal poetry format – haikus, odes – but rather allow the young men to write freely. The group will however, write in cursive.
McWhite believes this handwriting style forces one to slow down and “focus on what you’re saying.”