No one has to tell Reverend Jonathan Z. Queen about the challenges facing girls. He has first-hand knowledge – as the father of four daughters ages 18-24 – and knowledge gained through his experience as a long-time youth counselor.
“I know there’s a lot of self-esteem and father pain issues, thing like that,” says Queen, who was named FBCG’s youth pastor in April and has been involved in the teen/tween portion of the church’s 2014 women’s conference, “HE Loves Me.” “I try to address it by setting an example so they see an alternative to something that might be missing.
“And I’m very big on doing ministry alongside my wife (Lenia Queen), so they see what healthy marriages and healthy relationships looks like. They get me as their youth pastor, but at any given time if they see me with my daughters, my wife or in the community, they also see me as a husband and father.”
Rev. Queen formerly served as youth pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church in York, Pa., under the leadership of Dr. Jasmin Sculark. But he had a vision of doing ministry on a larger scale, with more young people and more resources. Not just in term of finances, but through support and collaboration with other ministries.
God answered Rev. Queen’s prayer by placing him at First Baptist. The opportunity to work with MERGE, a joint youth ministry of FBCG and Zion Church, plays a huge role in his excitement. Hundreds of youth flock to FBCG on Friday nights for uptempo services tailored just for them. Shiloh held a similar event quarterly, bringing around 350 youth together on a weekend night.
“We called it ‘HYPE night’ – Having Youth Praise Everyday – where they did ministry and they would sing and dance,” Rev. Queen says. “It was just a beautiful thing. But we couldn’t do it every month because of limited resources at the time.”
“Ultimately, the vision for MERGE is to be that youth church, that alternative,” he says. “I want it to be the place where they say, ‘This is where we go to express ourselves, worship God and not be judged.’ I’m encouraged that they’re going to get the gospel and hear a powerful word from God that’s relevant to their world.”
Rev. Queen was also involved in planning for the women’s conference “Love Tour,” which visited middle and high schools this month. He says the conference, “HE Loves Me,” is a was a truly powerful concept that he wants girls to feel and let sink into their spirits.
“God loves them in a way that can remove any pain and eliminate any fear and anxiety,” he says. “My role is simply to provide any type of discipleship and shepherd them so they realize everything they need and desire can be found in God. They don’t have to do any of the foolishness of this world to get attention when God will give them all the attention they need.”