"Feature Church" Program Connects Church and School

October 01, 2006 | Heather Fowler

Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) has been expanding a program with the goal of connecting the next generation to the churches in the area. "Feature Church" is a student-run church service that includes music, a children’s story and a sermon, all presented by the students. In its third year, Feature Church has been extremely successful as an outreach to bridge the gap between generations.

Several years ago, a concerned church member, Dan Patchin, wanted to help PAA students connect more effectively with area churches. As a result, Patchin started some programs to help the school and its constituent churches draw closer together. “There was a need to reach out to our churches and let them experience the great things going on here at PAA,” said Patchin. This is when Feature Church was born. What began as a Sabbath School service grew to a full church service. “What is so nice about Feature Church is that everyone benefits,” said Gale Crosby, PAA principal. “The school is able to feature these talented young people, and the young people can find a home and a family in their local church.”

Once the church service is completed, a second part of the program begins. At a weekly chapel assembly on the PAA campus, the students see a short film presentation that shows pictures of the service and shares the church prayer requests, which helps students not involved in the service to feel a connection. The pastor from the church featured gives a talk and both the church and school pray for one another. An incredible bond is felt as both groups come together to lift one another up. “It is a powerful experience as it personalizes the church to the students,” said Les Zollbrecht, PAA chaplain. “The pastor as a real person and the church as a real place, welcoming them in.”

Linda Hill, one of the leaders, said, “These students do such a tremendous job. I was amazed at their willingness to be involved.” Hill feels she is the one who is truly blessed. “I had church members come to me afterward and tell me what a blessing they received. Young people have so much to give. I have been incredibly touched by this program and these students.”