Teens serious about faith, fun - Wicked Local

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Teens serious about faith, fun - Wicked Local
Mar 19th 2012, 20:49

A group of teens rushes to open the doors for people entering Newburyport eateries and shops.

Another group of teens seems to need to cleaning up the city's litter.

What's going on here?

It turns out that performing good deeds and acts of faith can raise your cool quotient.

At least this is true if you are a member of the All Saints Anglican Church of Amesbury's youth group, headed by youth pastor Brian Morelli. As 13-year-old group member Jonah Longacre put it, "It's sorta like, when we have fun when we're talking about God, we learn more. It's fun and it's cool."

The youth group, which numbers up to 30 participants who meet weekly at the Amesbury church, draws members from that city, Newburyport, Byfield and as far away as Beverly. The group, divided into two teams, recently romped around Newburyport, performing good deeds while finding various items in a high-spirited scavenger hunt.

Their scavenger hunt list took them all around the city that Morelli called "The ideal place to have fun."

"Everybody always has a blast with these kinds of things," he said about the scavenger hunt, which required the teens to photograph themselves with the objects that they found — and in the act of doing their good deeds or enacting scenes from films.

Longacre said the group enjoyed trying to figure out how to reenact a scene from a Disney film and finally arranged themselves to look as if they were holding up group member Albert Lamar by cleverly using a balcony as a support.

He said they met a more difficult challenge on their list, "Get on a boat — legally," by putting all of their hands on a boat docked on the Merrimack River.

The youths found themselves in The Dragon's Nest toy store, where they fulfilled the task of finding "Something starting with the letter Z" when they found a plastic zebra figure there. They visited the Best of the British shop on State Street to achieve their scavenger task of taking "A Pic of all you chaps with England's favorite biscuits and tea." And they posed with a member of the Starbucks staff to get "A group picture with someone in uniform."

In order to have themselves "photographed with The Beatles," one team called up an iPhone photo while the other team photographed themselves with a Beatles cut-out at Dyno Records on Middle Street.

"They looked at the scavenger list and they said, 'OK, what can we do? What can we do?' They are up for anything. Nothing phases them," Morelli said.

"I know it sounds like a cliché, but it's really neat," said Skip Longacre. He is the father of Jonah and 15-year-old Kayla Longacre, who are both in the youth group.

"I'll tell you what makes me very glad that they are in a youth group of this type is that they are connected in a community," he said. "I'm seeing them try to make as good decisions as they can in life and this means so much to me as a dad.

"It's a real struggle these days to abstain from certain behaviors, but the community of faith has really sustained them," he added. "They are learning to develop a faith of their own and that's important. It's been great to see teenagers want to be at a place to discuss deep things. We are fortunate to have a ministry that takes their intellect seriously and is not just Kool-aid and cookies."

"There needs to be a balance on the journey of faith between having fun and being serious," Morelli said.

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