Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 16, 2014

Doing his part to bring in younger members

Twenty-five-year-old in Methodist church looks for new visitors

By Lindsey Ziliak
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Anthony Schuh moved to Kokomo a year ago from Wisconsin and was shocked by just how few young people attended the Methodist churches here.

When he was new in town, he attended both Main Street United Methodist Church and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. In each congregation, he noticed only one or two people his age.

He decided to start a Kokomo chapter of the Epworth League, which is designed to help young people in the Methodist church work on community building, spiritual growth and missions.

The group has five regular members and one or two who come when they can. Twice a month they meet to plan missions and community service projects and study their religion and other religions.

Recently, Schuh reached out to other churches to offer the resource to them.

The idea is to grow the group so people in that 18 to 35 demographic feel like they have a network of peers to meet with and grow with, he said. Perhaps young visitors at a church won’t immediately leave if they know the group is available to them, Schuh said.

Main Street United Methodist Church Pastor Nancy Blevins said all mainline denominations are struggling to attract this demographic.

Schuh said he’s trying to do his part to help the church grow.

“You’ve got to be swimming in a direction,” he said. “You can’t just tread water. The nature of the church is that it has to grow.”

It will just take a little momentum to make an impact on the church community, he said.

Some of the area pastors like his initiative and ideas.

“I spoke with one, and he said this was an answer to some of his prayers,” Schuh said. “He was really encouraged by it.”

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune Life & Style editor, can be reached at 765-454-8585, at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LindseyZiliak.

WANT TO HELP? Anyone with questions about the Epworth League and how to get involved can reach Anthony Schuh at schuhmt@gmail.com.