Tim on guitar performing with youth member Sean Gregory at multi-youth group meeting in 2007.
How it all began
My name is Tim Ferguson and my Christian Youth Ministry began as a high
school student at a Baptist Church in Port Jefferson, N.Y. Our adult leader
often looked to me for ideas and even let me run a few meetings.
After returning from college in 1969 two local churches, one Presbyterian
and one Methodist, joined together in a local coffeehouse ministry. Before
I knew it, I was left in charge. It was a volatile time. The group had
its share of Vietnam Veterans as well as protestors of that war. Everyone,
it seemed, played acoustic guitar. People liked to philosophize about faith
but involvement in the actual church was lessoning. In the midst of this,
events like "Olympics", and "flashlight sing" evolved. These events were still
used forty years later.
In 1973 it became apparent that it was time for me to move on. It was
difficult. Though I had a job at a local insurance company, my work at
the coffeehouse was my real mission in life. It took a good friend's heart
to heart conversation with me to solidify my conviction that there truly
was a new life ahead. I prayed about it and decided to leave it in God's
hands - I would take the first affordable apartment anywhere within an
hour's drive of my place of business.
In May 1973 that "anywhere" became an unknown town in central Long Island,
N.Y. by the name of North Babylon. Boardering to its north was the village
of Deer Park. To my amazement the very first Sunday I attended the Deer
Park Presbyterian Church a church elder announced that he wanted the church
to support a new local coffeehouse. God had called me to leave one coffeehouse
ministry behind and immediately gave me a new one in my new home. To this
day I still marvel at how God calls us to our missions.
The Deer Park Coffeehouse was, in actuality, a post high school youth
gathering and ran weekly for eleven event-filled years. In many ways a
mission project, the group became a family of friends that still exists
to this day. Several individuals from the group were introduced to our
church through the coffeehouse. During these years I became a parent,
started teaching a seventh grade Sunday school class and was elected to
the church board of elders. Soon after the Cub Scouts of America called
and seven years of den leadership became my new calling.
However, God was not yet through with me in terms of this church's youth
work. The church asked for a new senior/junior high leader and I, at the time
with fifth and eight grade sons, stepped forward on Easter Sunday 1994.
As blessed as the previous programs were, this one was especially blessed.
We were blessed by youth who cared and who wanted to make a difference. Many
have made testimonials under the "Youth Speak Out" page on this website.
They made a name for themselves by serving seventy-five homeless people
on the lower east side of N.Y. City outdoors during a blizzard in January
2005. They embraced the Thirty Hour Famine for seventeen years and for
several years brought other Christian youth groups into this program by
inviting them to join us. I am particularly blessed that several of the
children of the original Deer Park coffeehouse members attended our
youth group even though the families were active in other local churches.. It was so much fun to see Steven E. do well at Olympic events at which his father Joe E. excelled in the late 1970's.
In the Fall of 2014 the youth group ended as there were no longer Junior and Senior High School students active in the church. It was a good twenty year run and I have been pleased to continue my Christian youth work via this website. People from around the world continue to share how they use the many activities available through various pages on the website.