The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Sunday, January 31, 1999
God Squad delivers 'The Message'

Staff Writer

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When a traveling youth drama troupe from a Minnesota church visited Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in 1988, the youth began wondering what held their own talents back.

So they asked senior pastor, the Rev. Justin Kollmeyer and he began to ponder. "Maybe we can do it too," he replied and thus the God Squad was formed.

The God Squad is a youth musical drama group composed of teenagers in sixth through twelfth grade, who spend most of the year gearing up to present an elaborate production.

Headed up by church member Karen King, the group that has grown from 17 to 60 members has been rehearsing since September to present "The Message" in May.

"They really work at it," King said. "They see the results and how the Lord uses them and then they want their friends to be a part of it."

And that's exactly what the church hopes to see. The Rev. Kollmeyer said that "the number one purpose of the God Squad is to serve the youth involved, then as they are served they can serve others in giving and sharing with their production."

The God Squad has grown in number not solely due to growth in the congregation, but through the participation of unchurched teenagers who have found a place to be involved. The group is open to members of the community who would also like to share their talents.

"Not all kids have a place to go," said Kollmeyer. "Our challenge is to make sure it stays personal, is an on-going ministry with the families and youth year-round and in the process share a lot of love."

"It's easy to invite them to this, as opposed to just inviting them to church," King said. "They become involved and then later in so many other aspects."

King was asked by Deanna McAter, director of children's music, in 1988 to begin the program for the youth. She said though she has no formal training, she had been active in community and high school theater.

"I had the desire and I prayed about it and felt like the Lord led me to do it," King said. "And it has been a growing ministry. It's real deep in my heart to continue doing this, it's meant so much to me."

The group travels every other year and has produced shows at various churches in Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina and is preparing for a Texas trip this summer. On alternating summers, the show is presented throughout the local community and at Prince of Peace.

According to Kollmeyer the productions are congregation funded and are gifts to give to the churches they visit. At the same time, the host churches have been allowed to play an active role in ministry as well.

The families in the host churches open up their homes to the youth. Groups of two and four children will go home with a family from the church often leading to long-term friendships.

"It's a great way for the kids to feel like they're involved in the church," said King. "It's great the way they see it touch people's lives."

King said a Peachtree City woman wrote to the group after seeing their production saying that she finally felt forgiven by God.

The messages, said Kollmeyer, deal with issues like faith, crises, and life decisions.

"If we tried to get a traditional curriculum in relation to faith and Christ, it would be a tough sell," Kollmeyer said. "But they love the plays, the music, and they learn lessons that come out of them. They talk about them for years after."

"The plays talk their language, the music is theirs and it beats with their hearts and souls."

The God Squad will perform "The Message" May 23 at the Sunday morning worship service and again on June 6 at the Sunday evening service. The group will then prepare to leave June 15 on two charter buses for Texas, performing several shows along the way.

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