Meet Emily Brendel, this year’s sixth grade girls confirmation small group leader. Emily shares her “full circle story” of APLC’s confirmation program as once student participant and now as adult small group leader.
I have attended APLC since arriving in San Antonio as a 5th grader in 2004. My confirmation experience began the very next year. By my 8th grade year, I had become extremely close with my confirmation class, and I still maintain friendships with many of them today. These lifelong friendships are grounded in faith and growing our relationship with God by continuing to embrace new opportunities to serve.
I graduated from Reagan High School in 2012 and left for the University of Missouri for the “away from home” experience. With that next graduation though, my heart wanted to come back home to San Antonio and warmer winters.
Back home also meant Abiding Presence. Having grown up in this place I love the familiarity and appreciate the changes in the people and worship style. I look back with gratitude for the wonderful journey I had through confirmation and high school and wanted to be part of that experience for another group of kids. In chatting with Mike Ceyanes, it was obvious God was leading me to the new set of 6th grade girls needing a small group leader last fall.
I was fortunate enough to attend every retreat during my confirmation experience, some of my favorite memories. Being able to return to Camp Chrysalis and experience these retreats with the confirmation students in 2016 as an adult leader has been rewarding and inspiring. I have enjoyed continuing to grow in my own faith while witnessing and helping the middle school youth grow in theirs. Seeing them learn and have fun on the same retreats I attended at their age has reaffirmed my faith and motivates me to continue to help our youth grow in their personal relationships with Christ.
I was recently talking with Mike about upcoming confirmation events. When he mentioned the 8th Grade retreat scheduled for April, I was instantly reminded of my own 8th grade retreat in 2008.
The 8th grade retreat was by far my most memorable. Camp Chrysalis remains one of my favorite places and is a place I feel closest to God. Heading to Camp Chrysalis in 2008, for one of the last times as a confirmation student with some of my best friends and twin brother was bittersweet – it was a time of transition for me. Knowing I was nearing the final step before being confirmed into the Lutheran Church was exciting. I still have the picture frame with the confirmation promise we made that weekend and remember experiencing each of the traditions that come with that particular retreat. Reflecting on our confirmation journey together but in a unique, personal way was something I’ll always remember with gratitude. That weekend in the hill country was a special time that helped shape my faith.
I am enjoying this opportunity to serve here at Abiding Presence. Sharing what my own confirmation journey meant with these youth not as a parent, or pastor, or youth director but a friend and guide is a joy. I am honored to be a part of their faith formation.