75,000 Worship Notes and Counting

Barb Schulz (center) surrounded by youth directors (clockwise from left) Erin Swenson-Hatzung, Katie Strand, and Sarah Bane.

After 18 years of dedicated ministry, Barb Schulz is retiring from her administrative role in the Youth Department. While this is bittersweet news, we thought it would be fun to highlight a notable aspect of her job: reading worship notes.

Worship notes are a long standing requirement of the Confirmation program at SOTV. Currently, youth are asked to complete 18 notes each year during grades 6-8. During worship, students are tasked to jot down main points of the sermon, their favorite piece of music, and state their “highs and lows” for the week. Barb reads through each submitted note, adds comments, and returns them to the students. To date, Barb estimates she has read 75,000 worship notes.

Barb has gotten to know many students through their notes and feels privileged to have been “let into their lives.” She’s read about concerns ranging from deaths of family and friends to bullying at school, and everything in between. Some correspondences have become almost like “pen pals” over the years. One student started a “Chuck Norris joke” exchange that the two kept up for years.

Barb has challenged youth on their responses to worship with questions like “Why do you think that?” and “Do you really feel that way?” Students can ask questions too. A few memorable questions: “Where are the dinosaurs in the creation story?” and “How many lights are in the Sanctuary?” Her all-time favorite quote from a worship note is “Why is the word amen the word ‘Amen’? Why not ‘Awoman’? Seriously . . .I’m not being funny.”

Reading worship notes has had a positive impact on Barb during a rough period of her life. While she was undergoing a stem cell treatment and had to stay at home for an extended period, reading the notes was very uplifting and made her feel better. All of the prayers and “Get well wishes” meant so much to her. Reading comments from students has inspired Barb to learn more about what their lives are like. She read the Harry Potter and Twilight books so she could understand their excitement about the characters and plots.

Barb says the best part of reading some students’ worship notes for 3 years is seeing how their faith has grown from those first notes in 6th grade to writing statements of faith in 9th grade. How does that growth happen? Through nurturing family, a great confirmation program where they can be with and make new friends, and the experiences they have attending camp or an immersion trip.

We will miss Barb in the office, but Confirmation students (and parents) should fear not! Barb has volunteered to continue reading notes during her retirement. Thanks Barb, for making a positive impact on so many students. You’re an inspiration to us!

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