--By Jackie Campbell--
Amanda Gilligan, who received the Professional Youth Worker of the Year Award in 2009 while serving as youth director at Grace UMC in Indiana, has been named Coordinator of Young People’s Ministry for the Western Pennsylvania Conference. She officially begins work Dec. 1 in the part-time staff position that will encompass ministries designed for youth, college students and young adults.
Amanda was chosen from among a pool of applicants. Leaders of the Conference Youth Ministry Team, the Director of Connectional Ministries and Personnel Team members participated in the selection process.
Although by most standards Amanda is still a young adult herself, she brings considerable experience to her new position. In addition to 10 years working with youth at Indiana Grace and a few more with Franklin District youth ministry, she currently assists with the college student ministry at California United Methodist Church. Her husband, the Rev. William “B.T.” Gilligan, is pastor of the church, located just a few blocks from California University of PA.
A pre-K teacher with a degree in elementary education from Indiana University of PA, Amanda and B.T. are parents of 8-year-old Samuel and 6-year-old Olivia.
She’s enthusiastic about the opportunities her new position affords her to “continue the good ministry with youth that has been happening, to identify needs of youth in different areas of the Conference and to equip and resource local church leaders and encourage new young adult ministries.”
She said she also hopes to help bolster efforts to identify young adults who may be called to ordained ministry.
“I think that young people have a passion for Christ that sometimes we lose as we get older,” Amanda said. “I wanted to be a part of the Church’s efforts to help build on that passion and keep it alive by addressing the needs of youth and young adults.”
Amanda has been doing that since her college years through ministry as a volunteer youth worker, student intern and eventually youth director at Indiana Grace.
“It was not until college that I connected with Christ and the church, grew in faith and realized what it meant,” Amanda said. As a youth, she attended a Methodist-related camp in Eastern Pennsylvania, so when she went to college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, she knew she wanted to connect with a Methodist church.
“Grace Church was right down the street and one day my roommate and I decided to walk down there ... and the rest is history,” she said. “I knew I wanted to grow in faith at Grace.”
She joined a college student Sunday School class and attended the church’s campus ministry events. “Through the college ministry, I got involved with the youth group at the church because they needed volunteers,” she explained.
The Youth Worker of the Year Award she received is given annually to recognize a paid youth worker who demonstrates a commitment to Jesus, a passion for youth and a commitment to equip today's youth for a lifetime of ministry and service.
“Amanda was selected because of her character, her integrity, her heart for youth ministry and the impact she is having on youth in our community,” the Rev. Brad Lauster, then senior pastor at Grace Church, said at the time. (Lauster is currently the Washington District Superintendent.)
In helping to present the award, the Rev. Eric Detar, then associate pastor at Grace, said, “Since joining the staff in 2005, Amanda has built a great youth leadership team and has shown a passion to help other youth groups succeed. She constantly challenges us as to what it means to be the church and what it means to have a youth ministry.”
Amanda left the position at Indiana Grace when her husband was appointed to the Eldersville UMC in the Washington District in 2010. But the skills and passion she demonstrated in Indiana, as well as her later involvement with young people's ministry in smaller churches, should serve her well in her new position.