Text from Rev. Larry Wagner’s presentation:
While tonight’s announcement regarding the recipient of the 2013 Tommy Award won’t be covered by any of the major networks, and it won’t likely be printed in the morning edition of the LA Times, it matters deeply to those of us who are gathered in this ballroom tonight. One of our own is being celebrated as someone who has had a significant impact on the faith formation of countless numbers of youth and their families.
Listen to some of the descriptions used by her peers and proteges:
- She is joyfully tireless, but not in a workaholic sense.
- She is deeply compassionate
- She has a huge heart for loving and caring about and for others.
- She is the queen of doing youth ministry on a shoestring budget.
- She has a deep commitment to social justice issues.
She embodies so many of the components of the visions and dreams of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network:
- She is and has been a respected mentor to many lay leaders in youth ministry.
- She has organized weekly gatherings of youth leaders in her areas.
- In these meetings she writes down prayer requests and concerns in her personal prayer journal. One of her proteges commented that “you just know that she’s on her knees praying for you.”
- She has started a number of grassroots networks.
- She understands the Networks goal of creating Networks of Networks.
She currently serves as a Practice Discipleship Coach in her synod. She is the Director of Youth Ministry on her synod staff. She is the Road Trip Coordinator for Living Waters, the outdoor ministry of her synod and two other synods. She recently completed 10 years of service to her church as the youth and family director. She coordinates Bridges, not Walls, Youth Mission, creating partnerships between ELCA youth in the USA with youth in Palestine.
A very personal story about her and her husband Joe, that is publicly known in her region of the country shares important aspects of her character and her faith:
She and her husband’s son died in a fatal car accident in 2006. At a service of celebration of their son’s life, attended by huge numbers of young friends, families and neighbors, this couple “witnessed to the healing presence of Christ in the midst of their personal sorrow.” Lives were touched and changed because of their faith, so powerfully lived out.
She helped to keep her synod solidly anchored through difficult leadership transitions. As she accompanies youth directors and other church professionals during awful times of transition, she is known to say: “It will get better.”
She told me, that as we go home to the realities of our parishes, after this Super Bowl of youth ministry, that it is so important to have this network of people around us.
This Network is important to her, and to us when we are in the dark times of our life, and as we celebrate the joys of this ministry. She shared that the Network “Literally lifted me up.” And she concluded “I am so blessed to be a part of this Network.”
It is our privilege to present the recipient of the 2013 Tom Hunstad Award for Excellence in Youth and Family Ministry, to Lisa Jeffreys, from Chelsey, Michigan.
Thanks be to God!