November 2023 | Written by Barbara Ryczek

This month our KidsQuest article will feature Scotty Blakley. Scotty grew up attending Gashland EPC and went through its Children and Youth programs. He will tell us his experiences with the different Children and Youth ministries at Gashland EPC. 

Barbara: Scotty, share with us about your experiences with Children’s Church at Gashland EPC.

Scotty: I don’t remember a ton about it, but I know that we met in the room under the stairs that now is an elevator. That was prior to the Ministry Center being opened. I enjoyed my time in Children’s Church, and remember memorizing Bible verses and watching a lot of Veggie Tales.

Barbara: What are your memories of Sunday School at Gashland?

Scotty: I grew up going to Sunday School and I loved it. I always had good relationships with the members who volunteered to teach me about the Bible. When I was in third grade, I accepted Jesus Christ into my life for the first time during Sunday School. I remember after church my teachers talking to my parents and telling them of my decision I had made that day, and lots of hugs. In middle school, Ken Van Engen was my teacher and the guys my age had him as a Sunday School teacher for all three years and it was a very special time. I believe I learned the most about the Bible during that time as I matured. Mr. Van Engen took us to McDonalds once a month for an outing which we loved. Ironically, 18 years later I meet for a Bible Study on Saturdays at the same one.

Barbara: Do you have memories of Vacation Bible School at Gashland EPC?

Scotty: VBS was a huge highlight for our family in the summer. One of my favorite things was the shirts we got which required people to iron on the logos. I really enjoyed the singing that we used to do and all of the actions that went with the songs. We had a concert on the last night and it was really fun. I enjoyed being there with all of my church friends and having an awesome time. I also remember that the themes were really fun and there were CDs that we would listen to in the family van.

Barbara: Can you share about Gashland’s EPC youth group and your time in this group?

Scotty: I remember fellowship with friends and bringing my friends to church. Playing games, singing songs, and learning Bible lessons was the usual for many of these nights. When I was in middle school I started going to Next Exit. This was like a middle school version of Young Life. Young Life was where all of the high school students went after we had Next Exit. What I really enjoyed about GEPC and the youth programs that I went through here is that it prepared me to take the Gospel out into the world. As I went into high school, there was a mix of positives and negatives that the church was facing at the time. I became more involved in the youth group during the good times but then our youth minister left and I started becoming more involved in Young Life. I started to understand more of what it meant to reach the unchurched as I started having Biblical conversations with friends from school. It also helped that I went to school with those friends, as none of the kids in youth group went to my school. When we hired a new youth pastor, I once again became really involved in youth group, even through my college days. Ultimately GEPC has been the best place for me.  I was baptized, confirmed after 8th grade, and married in 2020 at this church. It has been an awesome journey and I love giving back to the church that helped raise me up in my faith.