FARMINGTON — For decades, membership in a youth fellowship group at Henderson Memorial Baptist Church has created bonds and foundations that have continued.

During this month’s 200th anniversary celebration for the Farmington church, some Baptist Youth Fellowship members are organizing a reunion for all former members. Activities are planned July 17 and 18.

After attending a 30th high school class reunion, a couple of members thought it would be a great idea “to get together with the people we grew up with in church,” said Crystal Poulin McBean of Wilton who along with Beth Byers Small started working on the idea.

Reuniting to plan the event, about 16 members have organized a Family Fun Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 17 at Kineowatha Park in Wilton followed by a dinner at 6 p.m. at the church in Farmington.

Former members of BYF will lead the church worship service starting at 9:30 a.m.  July 18 with Henry Cooper, a BYFer as a teen and now associate pastor of Fayette Baptist Church, delivering the message on foundations.

All former members are welcome to attend, even if they have not been contacted.

It doesn’t matter when you were a member, as a “BYFer is always a BYFer,” said a former group adviser, Brent Smith. Smith, along with his wife, Bertha, led the group for 12 years, stopping in 1985.

“We’ve had such a good time planning,” McBean explained, that the group wants to continue meeting. “We figured out that we like spending time together.”

For McBean, the years spent in the church youth group from grades seven to 12 meant building her faith, learning from church members who modeled Christianity and learning to be in service to others.

Testaments to those early foundations that have lasted will be shared by members during the Sunday service by those present and by some received through e-mail. Many members, even 30 years later, are involved in service of some kind to others, McBean said.

“The children learned about God and worked hard as they learned from an early age to do for others,” Brent Smith said.

They also learned not to leave anyone out as the group encompassed all teens regardless of personalities or popularity.

The Smiths, who started leading the group while dating and then married, realized they had made a big commitment taking on the group but one that brought them both a lot of joy.

Not having children themselves, they became “second parents” as the teens talked to them about things they didn’t talk about with their parents.

They also taught them respect regarding the way they represented the church and even how best to leave someone’s camp after using it for a retreat.

“They joke about having to ‘rake the forest’ when cleaning up a camp. They would say it was good enough, but being the detailed people we are, when we left the camp’s spring cleanup was done,” he said.

The reunion is for all those involved in BYF as a youth. Former members who would like more information about the reunion weekend may call the church at 778-2163.

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