Investing in Kids

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Elena Taylor, NextGen Coach

Elena Taylor is one of the seemingly tireless volunteers who spends her entire Sunday morning at Springcreek helping to nurture faith in children and youth.

Since 2013, she has volunteered with the NextGen ministries for elementary and middle school children. She started as a small group leader and transitioned into a coach when the church merged K1 through fifth grade into the NextGen Theater.

“I just told them, ‘Put me where you need me,’” she said. “It’s so encouraging to see student leadership. Investing in kids—that’s what I love.”

Elena became connected to Springcreek through a friend of her daughter Cierra. “This would be our drop-off point when they had sleepovers in their elementary years,” Elena recalled. “We had been going to another church at the time. Finally, my daughter asked me, ‘Why can’t we just go here?’”

On Sundays, Elena stays on the move. She helps set up the elementary age area, meets with other elementary leaders, then heads over to the middle school area to greet kids before their service begins. During the 11:30 service hour, she helps her mom, Tina Umobit, as she works with leaders’ kids in the kitchen.

Elena pulls weeknight duty as well. On Wednesday evenings, she leads a small group of seventh-grade girls. Elena said she admires the faithful participation she sees among Springcreek youth.

“They show up, no matter what,” Elena said. “I like the kids and their spirit, camaraderie. They’re really engaged.”

Feeling the Nudge

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Tiffany Cedor, NextGen Preschool Director

Tiffany Cedor says she enjoys working with preschool children because they’re old enough to be a bit independent and are very curious about new experiences.

“You can see the learning and discovery as it happens,” said Cedor, who is the NextGen Preschool Director. In her role at Springcreek, Tiffany oversees classes and edits curriculum for older preschoolers, ages 3-5, in jungle-themed rooms called Tiger Trail and Monkey Mountain.

Tiffany came to Springcreek in 2006 because her mother-in-law attended the church, but she’s stayed because of Pastor Keith Stewart’s teachings. “He makes it real,” Tiffany said. “I’ve grown so much since I came here. Keith makes it very practical. It’s something you can take home with you and think about during the week.”

Sitting in church one day, Tiffany heard about volunteer opportunities and “just felt that nudge.” She started volunteering with younger preschoolers and eventually became the storyteller for older preschoolers. Soon she became the preschool director – in her spare time. Tiffany is also a realtor and owner of a real-estate investment company.

Today, Tiffany and her husband, Timothy, have five children, aged 5 to 23, and two grandchildren. Their sons Colt, 9, and Kinsler, 5, attend NextGen classes. The rest of the family also have volunteer roles at church: Timothy serves on the Safety Team; their 17-year-old son, Houston, volunteers with the church’s tech team and helps with elementary age children; and their16-year-old daughter, Chloe, teaches children in Monkey Mountain.

“Chloe started with this group of kids when they were two and wants to continue teaching them as they go through elementary school. That’s what we encourage our leaders to do,” Tiffany said.

Right Place. Right Time.

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Jim Griffin, NextGen Elementary Leader

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Jim Griffin has been making a difference in the lives of our NextGen kids for over 15 years. He has been helping to guide our kids into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by sharing practical advice and guidance on how Jesus can help them make wise choices, love others, and trust Him, no matter what. Jim faithfully and consistently leads elementary-aged boys every week at Springcreek, but his dedication doesn't stop there. 
In case you haven't heard, Jim was recently recognized for saving a young boy's life. He was driving his regular school bus route on September 28 when he saw something that stopped him in his tracks. He saw a body lying in the street and immediately got out and dialed 911. Jim rolled the boy over and recognized him as one of the kids on his route. There was no pulse, so he started CPR to keep the teen alive until police and paramedics arrived to jump in and help. Jim's quick thinking and life-saving skills saved that boy's life.

Nabil Mohmoud, 16, was born with a heart defect but had it repaired soon after birth. He'd never had any problems until that day, when he forgot his wallet at home and ran back to get it. Fortunately for him, Jim Griffin was in the right place at the right time living out his faith.

Reflecting on what happened, Jim said, "God just puts people where He needs them to be when He needs them to be there." 
We are so thankful that God put Jim Griffin right where he needed to be that day for Nabil. We are especially thankful and blessed to have Jim as one of our NextGen leaders right here at Springcreek making a difference every week in our kids' lives. Where do you need to be? 

Walk This Way

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Brad Nuss, Parking Lot Team

Brad Nuss volunteers to do any number of tasks on Sunday mornings to help facilities manager Tony Gardner keep Springcreek running smoothly. He can be found setting up tables and chairs, helping people make their way safely across the parking lot, and even taking up the trash. "I'm pretty much Tony's sidekick," Brad said. 

Brad started volunteering at the church when he lost his job a year and a half ago. With too much time on his hands, he was worried that he'd become depressed. "When I lost my job, I had this sense of doom. I called the church and asked where they needed people to help. Tony, bless his heart, said 'I can find something for him to do,'" Brad said. "Helping out around here keeps my mind off the bad stuff. I consider it my prayer time."

Brad married into the Springcreek family. His wife, Sarah, who volunteers with the 2-year-olds on Sunday mornings, had attended before the church moved to its current location. The couple now has three children, ages 9, 7 and 5.

Brad recently got a new job doing data entry, but plans to continue coming up to the church to "get my manual labor in." Because Tony typically does his facility work in the afternoons and evenings, Brad can help out after his day job and on weekends.

"I believe God calls us to serve our community and our family, and Springcreek is both. Especially since I started serving - it's just family. I can't believe how many people here care about me and my family. It's been an amazing blessing," Brad said.

- Written by Robin Russell

In the Right Spot

Melissa Nunez, Network First Impressions Team

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Melissa Nunez still remembers the main point from the first sermon she ever heard at Springcreek back in 2011. "You're in the right spot, and we're glad you're here. You're OK." 

"I know he was talking to me," Melissa recalled after hearing Pastor Keith's message that morning.

She now wants to make sure other young adults who show up know that they belong here, too. As leader of the First Impressions team for Network: Young Adults Ministry at Springcreek, Melissa greets young adults and keeps up with them by texting them throughout the week. She also directs her volunteers to roam the lobby and connect with people who come in alone.

"Our goal is to make sure no one is sitting by themselves and to know they are welcome here," she said.

Melissa encourages young adults who are new to Springcreek to get out of their comfort zone and be more than just another face who comes in the door. She got her feet wet as a volunteer by first serving with the church's Welcome Team. After Patrick McLaughlin came on board as young adult pastor in March, Melissa was tapped to lead the First Impressions team.

"If you get involved and you start to meet people, you expand your positive circle of influence," said Melissa, a self-described extrovert. "I love to know as many people as I can, and the only way to do that is to get involved."

Melissa, who is single with no kids, says she has found a "family" in the young adults who are now part of her life. The Network ministry has grown from about a dozen to more than 40 young adults since this spring. Melissa credits the growth to the authenticity of the participants.

She's open, for example, about celebrating six years of sobriety, and recognizes how important relationships are to her recovery. Springcreek is where she first learned about recovery groups.

"When it was time for me to surrender, I knew where to go," she said. "I'm big on being vulnerable. If you see other people get real and be vulnerable, you know it's safe for you to be real, too."

- Written by Robin Russell

Behind the Scenes

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Billy Webber, Media Tech Team

Billy Webber likes to stay out of the limelight. He functions best in the shadows. For someone on the Springcreek Church media tech team, that's perfect.

Webber handles the computer and lighting from his auditorium booth once a month or more. He also provides weekly tech support at the Network for young adults and the NextGen student ministry.

"I don't like being up front. I like being in the background," Webber says.

Associate Pastor Scott Harper gives Webber video and slides for each service and programs the lights for worship segments. Webber takes it from there.

"My son calls me 'the go monkey.' I just hit the button," Webber said. "My goal is to run the tech so Scott doesn't have to worry about anything."

A computer programmer for 30 years at Sprint, Webber found his technical niche while a teenager at a Baptist church in Louisiana. The church had just upgraded its sound system and needed volunteers to run it. Webber thought it was a sweet deal.

"I figured no one could see what I did, so if I wanted to take a snooze, I could get away with it. As I grew in my faith, I came to realize that it's a calling," Webber said.

He's been on the tech team for seven years now and recalls a few mishaps. One time, he was transferring a reel-to-reel audio recording of a sermon onto cassette tapes when he heard a brief message on it from a passing CB radio enthusiast. Another time, he was focused on his equipment and didn't realize the auditorium had gone dark until he heard a patient voice onstage say, "I'm still here."

Those incidents are rare, however. Most people don't even notice what he does until something goes wrong.

"Being part of this tech team is my calling," Webber said. "I try to do it so no one knows anyone is up there."

- Written by Robin Russell

Meet Mr. Springcreek

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David Pesta, Welcome Team

For many regular attenders, David Pesta is known as "Mr. Springcreek." Every Sunday morning you'll find him just inside the main entrance, greeting folks with a hearty handshake, and he knows many by name. From the youngest to the oldest, children think of him as their designated grandfather. Adults tell him, "You're my weekly hug."

But David offers more than a familiar greeting. He is part of Springcreek's Chaplain Team, a dozen or so men and women who work at the request of Pastor Lee Jarrell to visit housebound or hospitalized members; help with baptisms, weddings and funerals; and pray for weekly requests. Wearing blue shirts and name tags, the chaplains come early and stay late to accommodate anyone who needs one-on-one prayer.

David became interested in chaplain work before coming to Springcreek. His wife went through an extended hospitalization at the time, and David cared for their two then-young children while holding a full-time job. Yet no one at their church ever called or offered to help.

"I felt in my heart that I didn't want anyone else to go through something like that, without someone being there in their time of need," David said.

Now retired, David invests in his chaplain work by encouraging others and praying with them. He brings a vial of oil to anoint the sick. Though he still feels nervous at times about hospital visits, he prays ahead of time: "Be with me. Give me the right words to say. Help me to not embarrass my church."

"I get a sense of comfort and love from the people. I know they appreciate me coming to see them. The kindness and love of people is what keeps me going," David said.

- Written by Robin Russell

Everybody Say, "Hello, Bibley!"

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Martin & Laura Sinise, NextGen Puppet Team

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Every Sunday morning, with rare exception, our 3-5 year-olds are regaled with a tale from the Bible told by the NextGen puppet team headed by Martin and Laura Sinise. With concepts ranging from classics like 'Jonah and the Big Fish' to more abstract ones like 'Why Jesus Wants Us to Share,' Martin and Laura have found a unique spin to tell each story for the last four years. They and their team are enchanting and teaching our children the Good News that God made us, God loves us, and Jesus wants to be our friend forever.

When not leading the Bible story, Mrs. Laura can often be caught in helping to lead the room or dancing along to the monthly Praise and Worship songs played before the story, while Mr. Martin likes to "greet the audience" - future, former, and present - in the NextGen lobby in-between services. (Beware: should you wish to come and see them in action, you may also get sneezed on by a fish!)

- Written by Emily Sims

Planting Seeds of Faith

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Karen Vance, NextGen Jungle Team

Here at Springcreek, our little ones begin to learn about God's love through caring and nurturing volunteers. Karen Vance has been planting seeds of faith for many years as she faithfully serves each week leading a class of one-year-olds in NextGen Jungle's Hippo Habitat.

Karen consistently invests in our children as she shares the love of Jesus through simple Bible stories and age-appropriate activities. She helps captivate the hearts and imaginations of our toddlers and introduces them to three basic foundations we want every preschooler to know: God made me, God loves me, and Jesus wants to be my friend forever.

It all starts here. Are you ready to plant some seeds?

Small Acts of Kindness

Andrew Grimes, Welcome Team

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A friendly face. A warm smile. A welcoming handshake. A kind word. These may seem like small things but they can make someone's day in an instant. 

Andrew Grimes, a member of the Springcreek Welcome Team, shares these small acts of kindness every week and let's our guests know that they matter to God - and they matter to us.

He is making a difference as noted in this gracious card he was given by someone who felt the love of Jesus through him.

Serving Through the Eyes of a NextGen Leader

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Tara Walker, NextGen High School Leader

It takes a lot of servant hearts to share the love of Jesus with our kids here at Springcreek. Tara Walker followed her heart over two years ago and stepped up to faithfully serve our NextGen high school students.

She recently had the opportunity to travel with them to Camp Glorieta, New Mexico and had an amazing experience leading and encouraging our kids. See and hear some of Tara's favorite memories from her childhood and camp adventures and how they brought her to where she is today.