A Thin Place

Written by Director of Youth Ministries Camilla Ballard

On Sunday, October 21, we began. Following worship, during Presbyterian Youth Connection (PYC), our young people volunteered their gifts for Youth Sunday leadership. There were those who affirmed that they would be singing in the Youth Choir. Some volunteered to share their gifts of hospitality as ushers and greeters. Others with an interest in art signed up to design and create the parament. And there were those who offered to speak—two of them affirming their choice to preach. 

These young ladies, Sasha Soucek and Lila Ingrum, met with me a few weeks later to prayerfully consider their scripture focus for the day. They chose two of the lectionary passages for the 7th Sunday after Epiphany—Psalm 37:1-11 and Luke 6:27-38. We met  through the fall and winter as they began their journey of discernment. 

When Lila and Sasha settled on their outlines, each made a presentation to the youth group. They spoke about their passages and where they felt the Spirit was leading them in their Scripture interpretation. 

From that presentation, our other speakers, artists and musicians began their preparations in support of the texts and main points for the Youth Sunday service. Some of the spoken word in worship is selected by our youth from Presbyterian worship aids. But other parts are created by the young people themselves. These include: the prayer of confession, the prayer for illumination, the prayers of the people, the offertory sentences and the prayer of thanksgiving, along with the invitation to discipleship and the charge and benediction. 

It is now only a few days until Youth Sunday. Lila and Sasha have created four to five drafts of their homilies. They have met with me over a period of four months and then with the minister mentor of their choosing. 

This week, each young lady will meet one last time to practice in the Sanctuary. We do not rush this final preparation but spend as long we need. Diction, projection, pace, tone and facial expression make up the focus of our last prep together. We pray. We take time to visit. It is a thin place for me, where a part of our earthly lives intersects with a very real wisp of heaven. It is holy ground.


Camilla Ballard has served as the director of youth ministries at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas for 23 years and has served in Presbyterian Christian education for 31 years. A native of Arkansas, she enjoys trips to Starbucks, reading the New York Times, watching movies and practicing Hogwarts spells with her grandchildren. She and her husband Bill have two adult children, Megara and Sam.