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Young Life celebrates a decade in Shelby, Tipton counties

Young Life members talked about their experiences joining the group, and they also gave their testimony. Photo by Thomas Sellers Jr.

Young Life members talked about their experiences joining the group, and they also gave their testimony. Photo by Thomas Sellers Jr.

Arlington’s Young Life program kicked off a couple of weeks ago under the leadership of Wes Wagner. Photo by Thomas Sellers Jr.

Arlington’s Young Life program kicked off a couple of weeks ago under the leadership of Wes Wagner. Photo by Thomas Sellers Jr.

The first purpose of the annual Young Life Banquet Nov. 7 was to celebrate 10 years in the Shelby-Tipton counties’ areas.

The 2017 theme was “A Place at the Table: Celebrating 10 Years of Shelby-Tipton County Young Life” held in Millington’s Crosspointe Church. The largest gathering in the event’s history started with a video commemorating the arrival of Young Life to Millington Central High School.

Since the idea inspired by Millington residents Dick and Nancy Barnhart to bring the longtime program to the area, Young Life is at MCHS, Tipton-Rosemark Academy and now Arlington High School.

TRA joined Young Life 2015 under the guidance of Justin Cole. Arlington’s program kicked off a couple of weeks ago with Wes Wagner. But the longest running school working along with the spiritual-building organization was MCHS.

It was 10 years ago Jeremy Crabtree embarked on an uncomfortable journey into the hallways, classrooms, gymnasiums, locker rooms, stands and hangouts of the MCHS student body.

“The kids perception of who I was, was an undercover cop,” Crabtree recalled. “It was kind of hard to get kids to talk to me. But after two or four weeks they kind of figured out that’s not why I was there. That’s where it kind of really began.”

Young Life is a non-denominational, Christian outreach ministry that involves caring adults working with high school students to build relationships and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through their lives first and then their words.

The organization does this by going to where the children are, like the high school. Counselors can be found at the students’ work, a basketball court, football stadium or even coffee shops. Young Life also has weekly meetings during the school year called “Club” that are a chance to have a good time. Everyone is welcome at Young Life.

When it began in Millington 10 years ago, then Tina Monroe, now Tina Wilkerson, assistant principal at E.E. Jeter, was the first volunteer leader. Joe and Tina Baltensperger supplied their home as a Club in the early days.

Under the guidance of Crabtree and others, the MCHS Young Life grew from about five children attending to dozens. Now the MCHS Young Life is under the leadership of Area Director Luke Sadler, going on seven years. The Club now meets at “The Green Top” of Commodore Villages.

Sadler and his wife and Mission Leader Jessica have worked countless hours attending games, events and awards banquets, encouraging the children. They teach and express the Word in addition to Young Life events.

Then in their spare time the Sadlers and other Young Life organizers are busy raising funds to support the efforts of Young Life. At this year’s banquet the Platinum Sponsors were Bethany K. Huffman CPA and Reed Family Dentistry; Gold Sponsors were An I.V. LLC and Patriot Bank; Silver Sponsors Splash Plumbing, Mid-South Veterinary Services, Boatwright Pharmacy and Commodore Villages; and Bronze Sponsor Superior Home Products.

The second purpose of the banquet was to announce the 2017-18 budget for Young Life operations in Shelby-Tipton. With executive services, direct ministry and staff compensation, the total budget comes to $225,600.

Entering the night Young Life raised $98,500. The program has plans to expand to middle schools in areas like Bartlett, Bolton, Brighton, Covington and Munford with a middle school program called Wyldlife.

Sadler addressed the audience, encouraging them to give so Young Life can continue to share Christ and His message with youth.

The local committee and table hosts were Bob and Dianne Baker, Joe and Tina Baltensperger, Dick and Nancy Barnhart, Jessica Carfield, Jason and Susan Dupree, Mike and Linda Evans, Robyn Hornsby Soctt and Angie Percer, Luke and Jessica Sadler, Jesse and Carol Smith, Zane and Becca Adams, Bob and Dianne Baker, Kyle and Caitlin Bomar, Justin and Kellie Cole, Jon and Lee Anne Crisp, Larry and Leanna Dagen, Bart and Melia Garey, Melvin and Chasity Guy, Chuck and Vicki Halford, Chad and Mindi Harkness, Hank and Jenny Hawkins, Paul and Carole McCullough, Thomas and Mary McGhee, Chris and Lynn Park, Cary and Lalania Vaughn and Wesley Wagner.

Young Life in the North Shelby and South Tipton County area currently only has volunteers at Millington Central High School and Tipton-Rosemark Academy, but children from all area high schools are welcome to attend. People who would like to see Young Life at their school or who would like to donate may call (901) 215-4481 or e-mail Shelby.Tipton.YL@gmail.com.

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