NEW BETHLEHEM – “As ministers, it’s our job to equip God’s people to play a part in God’s ministry,” said Grace Baptist Church senior pastor the Rev. Bob Ryver. “Everyone has a gift to tell others about Jesus.”
It was that same philosophy that recently led Curtis Twigg of Oak Ridge to join Ryver at the Keck Avenue church in New Bethlehem as the congregation’s first associate/youth pastor.
“The transition has been good and healthy,” Twigg said of his new role, which he began this summer. “The youth had a good program before I stepped in and it has continued.”
Although he was raised in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, Twigg said his connection to the western part of the state stems from his involvement with the Miracle Mountain Ranch, a Christian camp located in Spring Creek. Attending the camp as a child, he moved to the area after high school to take a position on staff. During that time, he met his wife, Amy, who, at the time, was the program director at the neighboring Whitehall camp facility.
Wanting to be more involved with their local community, the couple eventually stepped down from their camp positions, and Twigg went to work with his father-in-law in construction. They started attending Cornerstone Church of Clarion, where Twigg said he began to feel a growing nudge toward church work.
The couple became youth group leaders at Cornerstone, and Twigg stepped into an associate pastor role in January 2018.
“I was very content with serving there,” he said, adding that he served in that position for a year and a half before hearing about the job opening at Grace Baptist Church.
In fact, Twigg said he only considered applying for the new position after much prayer, consideration and guidance from God.
“The Lord gave me peace and seemed to say this is where I was meant to be,” he continued, noting his previous decision to leave Miracle Mountain to be more involved in his community. “Here was an opportunity at a church in the community where I lived.”
He took a leap of faith, and was hired at Grace Baptist Church, beginning in early August. In his new role, Twigg is responsible for church outreach and youth programming.
“Youth is taking up a big part of my time right now,” he said, explaining that he meets with between 10 and 12 youth members each week. The youth group meets Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is open to all youth in grades seven through 12. “I’m encouraged with that number. We have some new faces this year.”
According to Ryver, the hiring of Twigg is something new for the congregation, which has never had another person on staff.
“We’ve never hired anyone here,” said Ryver of the church that doesn’t even employ a secretary. “Our ministry leaders are awesome, but we knew we needed help.”
Ryver said that after reviewing applications from as far away as Africa and Britain, Twigg’s philosophies and ties to the area made him the perfect fit for the church.
“God brought us Curtis, [and] it’s nice to have someone on staff,” he said. “We’re hoping he can help raise our young people to be excited about Christ.”
Although only a few months into his new position, Twigg said he is looking forward to building relationships with the church families, and helping the youth become disciples of Christ by instilling in them a God-based foundation that they will want to share with others.
“I hope to see these teens stepping into leadership roles and owning this youth group,” he said. “I think it’s important for kids to see their faith happening in the here and now.”