Digital First: Youth pastor surprises church member with birthday song

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Many churches have stopped traditional gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, and they’ve come up with other ways to worship. The youth pastor of West Point Church in Hattiesburg, Calvin Bogan, created a way to stay connected to the youth.

“At our church, our mission is to impact the community with the love of Christ in a culturally relevant manner, so to be culturally relevant right now. So we are going to where they are. They don’t have to come to us. We are going to them,” he explained.

Bogan calls it Youth Pastor Pop-Up. He asked the parents to sign up their children for the surprise visits. He started the pop-up visits on May 5 and has made 30 stops. Bogan has traveled as far as Tylertown.

At each stop, he leaves a goody bag, a quick conversation and takes a photo with the youth. For one graduating senior, Bogan had a special birthday surprise for her after the coronavirus cancelled her plans.

“She didn’t know what to expect. She got out the car, I gave her the Youth Pastor Pop-Up goody bag and I played Happy Birthday to her,” said Bogan. “And I set this up a while back, so we had to get creative because of the quarantine. We couldn’t go to the restaurant like we planned.“

The youth say what Bogan is doing means more to them than he could ever know.

“It was unexpected. I was happy to see him because we hadn’t seen him in awhile. It was good to know he cared about us so much to come by the house to see us,” said Marlon Huddleston Jr., a youth member of West Point Church.

Bogan plans to continue pop-up visits until he’s visited each of the youth or when the pandemic ends.

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