You know you’ve made it when the local paper does an interview on you. On February 13, 2006, the Prince Albert Herald printed an interview that a friend did.
Youth helps other youths
by Ann Molloy
In our present era of body piercings, highspeed Internet, instant messaging, iPods, causal sex, homemade drugs, and MuchMusic, you can never be too young to ministry to the Y Generation.
Although only 25, Captain Shawn Branch, a bit of a techno-geek himself, of the Church Army, comes to Prince Albert with a store of experience working with hundreds of youth from the East Coast to the Prairies.
A six-foot-four, formerly bleach-blonde and sometimes jet-black native of Fredericton, NB, Branch moved to Prince Albert almost two years ago.
He took the post as the youth ministry co-ordinator for the Anglican diocese, an entity covering an area larger than the Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchhill River riding.
"Youth Ministry is about building relationships with youth and letting them know they’re of value to God."
Branch explains that in Prince Albert, youths face great challenges, particularly drug and alcohol abuse.
"There are so many reasons: acceptance, to fill a void in their lives, and it’s become socially acceptable, so it seems like no big deal."
He said he recently learned hundreds of youth in Prince Albert are homeless because of drug use.
"It’s completely alarming to me."
In Fredericton, Branch worked for four years at a drop-in centre for teens.
Part of his role is to tell the youth that "ultimately, there is another way." Within the past two years, he has referred young drug abusers to Prince Albert’s youth services and intervened – having been trained by Victims Services – in a drug-related suicide attempt.
"When it comes right down to it, youth ministry is about building authentic relationships in a Christian context." And he continues to do this in the Prince Albert area, while pursuing his other interests, such as web design (www.skanglicanyouth.com) and home renovations.