Church involvement is second nature to Katie Pendelberry.
At Penfield (New York) United Methodist Church, she and her younger sister led the "Science Gizmo" station at vacation Bible school.
"We talked about the day's theme and then introduced how the daily gizmo represented the theme," she recalls. "We made sure to maintain enough discipline to prevent chaos but allowed enough freedom to have fun. I was able to teach the kids about Jesus and his love …, while they had a good time."
Serving as the drummer in the contemporary worship band is another role for Katie. "To praise God through music," she says, "adds a new dimension to the worship. It's a good feeling when you know that the band, the congregation and you are connecting with God through music.
"Playing with the praise band has made me a better musician and given me the confidence to play in my school's jazz band. Without my church, I wouldn't be the happy, confident person I am today."
When Katie was in the ninth grade, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I was very scared and sad," she remembers, "but I could always count on Sundays. Going to church gave me some comfort to hear about God's love for us."
Her church family enfolded Katie's family. "They brought us meals and prayed for us," Katie says. "My Sunday school class and friends helped me greatly because they already knew about my mom, and I didn't have to explain anything. They are some of the nicest and funniest people I know."
Katie's dad found solace in the men's Bible study group. "They guided and comforted him and helped him lead our family through that difficult time.
"Because of everyone's prayers and support and God's love," Katie adds, "my mother recovered, and my family persevered through that time, becoming stronger than ever."
Looking forward to college, Katie feels prepared.
"I feel I am ready to choose my college and the courses to map out my future," she says. "My classes exposed me to the arts and sciences at a difficult level, while letting me develop my writing, study and life skills.
"My church has also given me knowledge and experiences to go out in the world as a Christian."
Church involvement, Katie says, will always be an important part of her life, and your gifts on United Methodist Student Day will ensure she and other promising young people find their niche and share their talents.
"I plan on taking mission trips," Katie continues. "I'm of able body and mind and can help spread the church's mission and message. I can invite others to join me in spreading God's love and word.
"I look forward to my future within the church and what it may bring."
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelancer writer
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Student Day calls the church to support students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge. The special offering provides scholarships for qualified United Methodist applicants.