NextGen MinistryA place to be loved without the ‘ifs’

Sarah Pae, a mother and member of Piedmont Church, thanks Kerry Persichitte for her work with a warm hug in the nursery.

Story and Photos by Michael Barber

During a time of great transition at Piedmont Community Church, nothing has been more important to church members and leadership than the revitalization of our children and youth ministries.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of our children, youth and family programs had substantially declined, and the pandemic accelerated that decline. The Mission Study Report published in 2022 states, “We are looking forward to a time when our children can fully return to church life and the reinvigoration and reimagination of our programs and ministries.” 

That time is now.

Our NextGen Ministry launched on August 20, opening doors to renovation and new program design, led by NextGen Director Kerry Persichitte. The Christian Education Building has undergone months of restoration ahead of opening day, including the addition of a Welcome Center, new carpet, paint and digital display screens to support class teachings.

“Spaces were intended to support the program”, Kerry said. “Students were involved in creating the space.” So much so, that when an adult volunteer arrived to help build new furniture, he was told that his assignment would come from a student volunteer – ironically, one he teaches at Piedmont High School. 

A young elementary student takes a short break from learning.

“Our students are invested,” Kerry said. The investment of time isn’t limited to students. More than 35 adult volunteers have stepped up to teach, help greet and support the NextGen Ministry in a variety of ways.

Senior Pastor Steve Schibsted has been an advocate of the new ministry since inception. “I believe God calls each one of us, God calls each church, to invest the next generation,” Steve said. 

“I hope we will be known as a church that values children and youth and one that makes investing in them a top priority.”

The timing of NextGen Ministries comes a critical moment – not just in the life of the church, but in the lives of the children and students it serves.

“Kids need a sense of belonging,” Kerry said. “Kids and students matter. They deserve a safe place to express emotions with a group of people to help celebrate the highs and to comfort during disappointing times. Some have a deep sense of loneliness. Our hope is we are there for them.”

NextGen intends to support parents as well. 

“Parents are struggling, but often privately,” Steve said. “We’re making a safe place where parents can come together and share in the things they are struggling with through events, community and connection with one another.” 

The overarching goal of the NextGen Ministry is to find ways to love our youth. “They need to know the truth,” Steve said, “that they are valuable, regardless of their grades, their looks, their social status – regardless of the ‘ifs’.”

While the NextGen Ministry was started using funds the church already had, more work and fundraising is needed to complete the vision. 

From left, Julie Wu, Christy Guidici, Gen Hiller, Kerry Persichitte and Carolyn Chun.

Piedmont Church is launching a short campaign with a goal of raising $250,000 to further renovate the C.E. Building and grow the ministry to accommodate larger groups of children and youth. 

Additionally, a dollar-for-dollar match has been established by an anonymous donor to make the total investment $500,000. Read more about this match on the next page.

“I’m so proud of our church,” Steve said. “We have used the money that has been left by some very generous people to launch this program. It’s the smartest thing we could have done.”

“God has taken care of us, and God will take care of us,” Steve said. “And it’s going to be amazing to see what happens.”

Anonymous Donor Pledges $250,000 Match

Piedmont Community Church has been pledged a substantial anonymous gift, restricted to capital improvements. A portion of this gift, $250,000, will be used in a dollar-for-dollar match of all donations made in support of the NextGen Ministry.With this match, the ministry will have $500,000 to continue renovating the Christian Education Building.

Members of our Board of Trustees have already personally committed $70,000 to help this campaign reach a $250,000 goal.

Expected building renovations include deferred maintenance, installation of new windows using safety glass, roof repairs and upgrading of other safety equipment.

On Sunday, October 1, the congregation will be asked to make a one-time financial commitment in support of our NextGen Ministry.