Hey y’all. Most of you know me, but if you don’t my name is Chandler Case… I am a senior at South Pointe High School and I am going to play golf at Winthrop University next year… but as much as those things help to define who I am, they aren’t as important as the reason I am standing in front of you today. I am here to say just how all of you have shaped me to become the young, Christian woman that I am, just how you have helped in God’s master plan for me.
The majority of you remember the little girl in white surrounded by dozens of people who loved her on the day she was christened. You also remember the little girl who skipped around church in her Gymboree outfits with the hat to match every Sunday. Just alike, you remember the little girl who spoke in front of the entire congregation, and didn’t have any nerves standing up here telling people 10 times her age to make sure they pay their ten percent. And again you remember the little girl who wore white for the second time when she was confirmed to the church in seventh grade. But today I stand before you as a seventeen year old, a young woman, a person who has grown a great deal since each of those surreal memories.
My family has been a part of this church for over a hundred years and I am proud to say I am a fifth generation of the wonderful St. Johns United Methodist Church. Growing up in this church gave me ample opportunity to serve God. It started when I was little, in Sunday school rooms with the best teachers I could ask for, learning bible stories that helped us become loving, faith-driven children. Then we moved to GY’s which really focused on the mission side of things, such as the yearly crop walk and the many fundraisers for charity organizations. Next I went into middle school, which we all know is the time we move into quest. QUEST – the reason we are all here today. QUEST – the reason there are so many amazing young people standing before you. QUEST – the reason numerous teenagers will be comfortable facing the world after high school, knowing God is by their side.
I’m not gonna lie, the first time I went to quest I was scared of what people would think… Would I fit in? Would I know anyone? Would I be judged? At the end of that first Sunday night, I knew all of those questions were completely irrelevant. Everyone was there for the same reason I was – to fellowship with other young Christians and grow in the Lords name.
I have been on endless amounts of mission trips and retreats with Quest, as well as staying in Rock Hill and doing other fun activities underneath of the leadership of Austin and Val. Trust me when I tell you every moment was one for the books…
In the olden days, middle school, we went on beach trips, ski trips and my favorite trips of all: the ones up the mountain. Since 6th grade, I have attended an amazing retreat, run by Tsunami Ministries, and each one could easily be classified as the best weekend of my life. It truly is a mountain top experience that you don’t want to come down from.
The thing is… when you go on these trips you feel like a brand new person, you come so close to God and you would do anything you can to stay there for the rest of your life. Honestly, we all know that is a dream far from coming true and even if it could, that’s not what God would want.
After all of these trips, the key thing I have taken from them is that we must come ‘down from the mountain’ and do exactly what we were taught to do: spread God’s word. Mark 16 verse 15 says “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
In high school, I continued going on these trips, as well as a trip to Puerto Rico and few other mission trips and activities that brought us closer together. These have included everything from a lock-in to a video scavenger hunt to just going out and playing football in the yard. Not only did we glorify God but we also came near and dear to each other. The friendships I have made in this church and especially in youth group are ones that will last a lifetime. Over the last seven years, I have come to love this group of people more than you can imagine.
And now I'm here… third quarter of my senior year… about to go to college and leave this wonderful youth group who has shaped me to be who I am today. Every memory made will be forever cherished in my mind, every trip stored in a special place, every activity, every game, everything.
Each day of my life I realize just how blessed I am, growing up in this beautiful church with all of you beautiful people. This congregation, this church, underneath of Gods helping hand, has done everything they can to make me who I am.
You have shown me the beauty when there is none, the love when we’re surrounded by hate, and the blessings in the hardest moments of my life. I cannot thank this church enough for raising me to be the young woman I am today. As said in Ephesians 1 verses 15 and 16 “Ever since I witnessed your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”