The Oxford Eagle
A new minister has taken the lead at Oxford-University United Methodist Church.
Brandon native Kelly Fenwick, 27, graduated from Mississippi State University with an undergraduate degree in kinesiology and a graduate degree in school counseling.
In graduate school, she became involved with a Eupora church and loved the youth ministry.
Fenwick moved to Oxford when her husband took a job at Camp Lake Stephens, a United Methodist summer camp. After searching to no avail for school counseling jobs, Associate Minister Chris McAlilly contacted Fenwick about becoming the new youth minister. She accepted the job in June.
Fenwick believes there are positives and negatives that come with being a woman youth minister in a male-dominated profession, but she must be able to connect. She said many parents are glad their daughters have a woman youth minister to connect with, and that helps Fenwick stay positive.
Fenwick recently hired four interns to help with the youth group. Kennedy Shock, 19, is one. She believes having a woman minister is beneficial.
Shock said Fenwick has, “written letters to individual students. She sends weekly emails to parents to remind them of upcoming events. She’s taken students to eat. She’s been to sporting events for the youth, etc. She’s done a ton of things to reach out to our students.”
The church had student interns before Fenwick arrived, but she contacted eight other students at Ole Miss to volunteer as small group leaders on Wednesday nights.
“Having college students who are right there in the next phase of life. . . helps me to be able to connect,” Fenwick said.
She said volunteers help with “setting an example and guiding them (the youth).” Their “main goal while they are here is to seek out kids who look uncomfortable, reach out to them and make them feel welcome.”
Thomas Toole, 22, is an intern who believes Fenwick’s passion and commitment to youth is important to the success of the church.
“She has pulled in strong leaders to help pull in other students,” he said. “She has given the youth group a sense of ownership, and she has stabilized the program.”
Fenwick in front of the youth group on Wednesday night with college intern Thomas Toole.
The reaction Fenwick has had from the church staff, parents, college volunteers and youth have made her feel blessed that so many people want to be part of expanding the youth program.
She said one of the most important things this age group needs is “community and relationship building.”
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, youth have “prayer breakfasts” as a way for church youth to come together and get to know one another before school.
Fenwick with a group of youth girls at Bottletree Bakery on the Square for Thursday morning breakfast.
On Wednesday nights, the eight college volunteers lead small youth groups. Fenwick wants the youth to connect with college-age students, so she often plans outings on the Square.