Church members sing during the finale of Cathedral AME Zion Church's Teen Summit.
Youth pastor and Teen Summit Organizer Katina Bell sings in the choir during Sunday Service at Cathedral AME Zion Church
Dr. Cedrick Gray, Superintendent of Education for Jackson Public Schools, gives the guest sermon during the Teen Summit at Cathedral AME Zion Church.
Church members fill the seats of Cathedral AME Zion Church during their Teen Summit.
The choir at Cathedral AME Zion Church sings during the Sunday service ending the Teen Summit.
Children who are growing up with a church might see the same people every single weekend. So when they hit those tough teenage years it might be helpful - during age specific programs - to bring in *an outside voice* to make an impact.
At Cathedral African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church in Jackson a recent 'Teen Summit' was aiming to do just that.
Nearly 100 teenagers completed the weekend of unfiltered discussion with a Sunday service. The Teen Summit had brought together about a half-dozen guest speakers who, organizer Katina Bell said. focused on the embarrassing or unspoken issues.
"Things like sex, drugs, abuse, and suicide, depression, suicide, teen pregnancy," Bell, who is a youth pastor and leader of "Youth Chat", said.
"They have so many issues that they're facing and a lot of the time because we've got younger children around them they're not as open to let us know those are the things they want to discuss," Bell said.
Shatiria Jackson said she participated in part of the activities and she's attended Cathedral AME Zion for all of her life.
"I done been to a lot of churches and here at this church I feel more welcome than any other church. Like, I grew up here and everything but they bring you in. They don't try to undermine you and talk to you like you're lower than them," Jackson said.
Dr. Cedrick Gray, Superintendent of Jackson Public Schools, delivers the finale sermon for the entire cathedral.
He said events like the Teen Summit play a spiritual role for students that affect life in a out of the classroom.
"When I was growing up, the church has been a cornerstone of the community," Dr. Gray said.
"And, even when I was a teenager, it was very difficult. There were very difficult times. And sometimes we felt that people didn't understand where we were coming from," Dr. Gray said.
"There's no doubt about it that if it wasn't for prayers of my mother and grandmother as an adolescent, it would have been a lot more difficult. But we couple that with some strategies and communication from school to help teenagers with some of the decision that they have to make that are pretty tough these days," Dr. Gray said.
That issue was the driving force behind the summit, Bell said.
"We can't just have Sunday morning service and just think that does the job. We have to continually provide opportunities for them to live a successful life," Bell said.
Mayor Chokwe Lumumba (D-Jackson) was also a guest speaker during that weekend.
Organizers are hoping to make this an annual event but are also continuing on with the weekly lessons that the Teen Summit grew from.
And if you'd like the viewers of NEWS CHANNEL 12 to learn more about your church community contact Jacob Kittilstad at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-664-8839.