This summer’s Children, Youth, and Family Intern is Abby Deneen, a member of Zion and a nursing student at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Zion is my church home, and has been for most of my life. It is a place where I have always felt very welcome, and continue to.
My fondest memory of church is being a part of Graceland (now Senior High Youth Group) when I was in high school. I met lifelong friends in this ministry and had the opportunity to participate in mission trips to Minneapolis, Colorado, Standing Rock Reservation, Indianapolis, and the ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit. My faith grew immensely while participating in Graceland, and I am so thankful for the opportunities I had to grow in faith with my peers during that time.
Whenever I am home for the weekend or a holiday, it’s as if I never left. I’m greeted by warm hellos and big hugs. The staff and members of Zion are some of the most genuine, kind people I have the honor of knowing, and I am so excited to spend my summer with them!
Abby’s parents, Bill and Katie Deneen, are members of Zion. Bill works at the nuclear power plant in Monticello, and Katie is a kindergarten teacher at Northwinds Elementary in Buffalo. Her brother, Peter, is graduating from Buffalo High School and will be attending to Michigan Technological University in the fall.
Abby’s faith has been challenged by her dad’s cancer.
When he was diagnosed over six years ago, I was angry. It shook my faith and made me question what I believed. Over time, however, I think my faith has grown stronger because of his cancer diagnosis. It has made me realize how truly blessed we are, as numerous friends, family, and even strangers have been there for us through it all with warm meals, kind words, and most importantly, prayers. I have watched my dad go through so much, yet he never lost his faith, which has helped me to keep mine as well.
One of Abby’s favorite Bible verses is from Psalm 46:5,
God is within her, she will not fall.
This verse is extremely comforting to me and reminds me that God does not leave my side. He is always with me, and that knowledge gives me strength.
Her friend, Leah, has also greatly impacted her faith.
We have been friends since middle school, and our friendship has always been rooted in our mutual love for Jesus. She is constantly encouraging me, praying for me, and leading me back to God when life is getting tricky. We go to colleges far away from one another, but I always feel closer when she sends me scripture or asks if there is anything she can pray for.
Abby has attended Sunday school and confirmation at Zion, volunteered with VBS and Sunday school, attended Camp Wapo and many other youth trips, and played handbells.
Children and Family Ministry is important because it gives children a faith foundation. These ministries nurture children to grow in their faith. They provide opportunities for children and families to talk about God and encourage one another as they learn about God’s love. I think that children can teach adults just as much about God as we can them. Because of this, I think it is important for ministries to include both children and their families as they grow.
She’s looking forward to being part of the staff team for the summer.
I want to be an intern at Zion this summer because of the amazing opportunities I will have to grow in my faith and help others to do so. I am so excited to work with the staff and families at Zion every day! I am most looking forward to spending time at Camp Wapo with Zion youth and going to the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston with the high schoolers!
Abby has two semesters left until college graduation, and will spend one of those studying in Harlaxton, England.
‘Helping people experience the joy of life in Christ by Living God’s Call’ means living out God’s call for me every single day. I believe I am called to love everyone the way God loves us and to use my gifts of compassion and kindness to show others just how amazing God is. Living my life in Christ brings me so much joy, and I want others to have the opportunity to experience this joy, too.
I live out my faith in the community by serving others and showing them God’s love. In my current community, Eau Claire, I live out my faith by serving at a local homeless shelter, Feed My People Food Bank, helping to organize other local community service events, and staying very involved at my local church, University Lutheran. I am involved in a variety of organizations on campus, including Colleges Against Cancer, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Lutheran Student Association. In my little free time, I enjoy biking, being outside, and spending time with my loved ones.