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Presbyterian Youth Triennium speaker spotlight: Alice Ridgill

Pastor and teacher to deliver message on ‘Teach Me the Way I Should Go’

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Alice Ridgill. Photo provided

Alice Ridgill. Photo provided

LOUISVILLE – The Rev. Dr. Alice Ridgill, founding pastor of New Faith Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, South Carolina, will deliver Thursday afternoon’s sermon at the 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium. Preaching on the theme of “Teach Me the Way I Should Go,” Ridgill’s sermon follows the “GO!” theme and scriptures guiding the content of the conference.

A graduate of Erskine Theological Seminary (M.Div./D.Min.), Ridgill is known for her leadership abilities and pastoral presence. Prior to organizing New Faith in 2010, she served as pastor of the former Washington Street Presbyterian Church in Abbeville, South Carolina; as adjunct professor of pastoral care at Erskine Theological Seminary; as campus pastor of Thornwell Home for Children; and as a chaplain (candidate) in the United States Air Force Reserves. Ridgill furthered her studies at McCormick Theological Seminary where she earned a Certificate in Executive Leadership.

With a personal motto of, “If I can help somebody as I travel along my way, then my living will not be in vain,” Ridgill spoke to Presbyterian News Service about the excitement she feels on attending her first Presbyterian Youth Triennium.

What will you preach or present on at PYT?

I have the amazing honor of preaching a message based on the theme “Teach me the Way I Should Go” using Psalm 32 as my text.

Why is this topic important for young people today and for the church?

I believe it is important for young people to know that God cares, God loves them and God wants to be involved in their lives. God listens to us and God speaks to us in various ways. We don’t always know what to do or which way to go, but God will guide us and direct us if we ask.

With the many themes of “GO!” spread throughout the week, what “GO!” action will your topic inspire in attendees?

Often, young people feel alone. Finding someone who truly understands them and who truly gets them can be difficult, especially during the teenage years. Through my message, I want to remind them that God is not some abstract heavenly being who lives far away; rather, God is a personal God who lives in the hearts of God’s people. I hope that my “GO!” action will inspire them to consistently and continually communicate with God through prayer. I also hope it will inspire them to go to God for guidance when they feel confused, discouraged, or lonely. I want them to feel comfortable with asking God to “teach them the way whey should go” and be confident in knowing that God will do just that if they ask.

What is the most important thing about PYT? Why are you interested in preaching?

I am grateful to be one of the preachers at this year’s PYT. Preaching at PYT will give me the wonderful opportunity to encourage young people to love God and devote their lives to shining the light of their lives for God (Matthew 5:16). I hope that my preaching and the personal stories I share will inspire them to walk more closely with God. I also hope that my time with them will help fan into flame a deeper desire for spiritual growth and a stronger passion for service to God and others.

We often hear read statistics about young people abandoning the church in droves, yet PYT is the biggest PC(USA) gathering. Why do you think that is?

PYT meets young people where they are and provides a safe place where they can express their faith with others their age. PYT provides a unique opportunity for young people from all across the country to meet new friends and worship with peers from various walks of life. This is appealing to young people today. Plus, I am told that PYT is lots of fun! I am looking forward to experiencing the enthusiasm, energy and excitement of PYT.

What’s one thing you want each person who hears you to go away with, to share, or to implement in his or her daily life? 

The one thing I would want people to take away from my message is that they matter to God and God wants to matter to them just as much as they matter to God.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I encourage all of us to keep PYT in our daily prayers. Let us pray specifically that the lives of all in attendance will be forever changed for the glory of God.

Registration closes June 10, 2016 for the event sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Churches held July 19-23 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

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