I am so excited to be a guest blogger on one of my favorite blogs!
I am Christine Bohn, and am so pleased to be able to say that I am the Executive Director of the Lutheran Girl Pioneers. I am also a part-time church secretary and have been for almost ten years. I have been married to Kevin, my biggest supporter and cheerleader, for nineteen years. We have two teenage girls, Rebecca and Emily, and two cats, Boots and Night-Night (who think that they are people!). I teach the upper grades for Sunday School at my church in the middle of Wisconsin and am the Caravan Counselor (the girl in charge!) of our local Lutheran Girl Pioneers.
I started working as Executive Director of the Girl Pioneers on August 1 of this year, so I am still trying to get everything organized and learning all that I have to do. It’s a big job, but I already love it! And I love the Girl Pioneers ministry!
What is Lutheran Girl Pioneers?
Lutheran Girl Pioneers is a para-synodical organization, which means that we are affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, but receive no synod funds. We are financially supported solely through membership fees and donations. We were formed in the 1950s in response to the Girl Scout movement.
The ladies of our synod wanted to give our girls a group, similar to Girl Scouts, but with Jesus as the center of all we do; instead of “trying our best”, we realize and teach that our best is not from us, it’s from Jesus.
Although Girl Scouts today is very different from the Girl Scouts in the 50s, Girl Pioneers isn’t. Yes, we teach different things than we may have back then, but our focus is the same - teach (and show through our every day example) these young ladies in a very practical way how to be a Christian woman in their world.
The nuts and bolts of it: Lutheran Girl Pioneers teaches life and leadership skills, all while promoting life-long Christian friendships that last into eternity. The girls move up in the program through different levels:
- Sunbeams (Kindergarten through 2nd grade)
- Travelers (3rd-4th grade)
- Trailblazers (5th-6th grade)
- Homesteaders (7th-8th grade)
- and Spinners (high school)
The girls can earn charms for a charm bracelet by completing each level and by completing Special Achievements.
Any WELS or ELS church can charter (start) a caravan, and by doing so, they get the benefits of being part of a larger national organization: being able to purchase Girl Pioneer supplies from the National Office; leaders receive the support and guidance that they need; girls are able to attend District and National activities, including camps.
Why Is Girl Pioneers Important?
Lutheran Girl Pioneers is a vital ministry available to all the churches within the WELS and ELS. Girl Pioneers is so much more than a social club or craft club. It’s girls coming to the meetings and knowing that they are totally accepted for who they are. It’s girls on a camp out not having to worry about being picked on. It’s girls inviting their unchurched friend to come to a lock-in and her hearing about Jesus for the first time. It’s girls comfortably being able to chat about their faith struggles and victories. It’s girls growing strong in their faith, in world that often ridicules and insults them for that faith.
And if that isn’t enough, it even goes further! It’s leaders who are studying God’s Word together, answering questions and serving selflessly. It’s the parents of the unchurched girls who join you on a camping trip who get to sit through Bible studies around the campfire, and ask questions they would never ask in a large group.
Yes, Girl Pioneers is important because we teach outdoor skills, kitchen terminology, and make fun crafts. But, it goes so much deeper than that!
Every generation is different from the last, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we all agree that the times we live in, at the very least seem more dangerous physically, but especially spiritually. You can’t turn on the nightly news or login into Facebook without seeing another terror attack, here or abroad. You hear daily of injustices, killings, riots in our city streets, terror groups recruiting young people, kidnappings and human trafficking. For adults, this news is overwhelmingly scary. Can you imagine what it’s like for our girls? Even schools aren’t safe anymore.
But Pioneers is! Not because nothing bad could ever happen at a church or to a church group; no one is so naïve to believe that. Pioneers is safe because of what we offer love. Jesus’ love shown to us, and our reflection of that love to our girls. And when our girls feel loved, accepted and safe, they then reflect that light everywhere they go. We can’t change the world, but we can certainly reflect Jesus’ light which we know can change hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit.
As leaders in this great ministry, we have the opportunity to not only teach skills, we have the enormous responsibility to show what it is like to live in this ever-changing world as a Christian woman, wife, mother, sister, friend.
And, if all these other things weren’t enough, Lutheran Girl Pioneers creates a fun place to come hang out with your friends and have a great time!
If your congregation has a Lutheran Girl Pioneers ministry, support them! Offer assistance, donate to their treasury, pray for your leaders and the girls they serve.
If your congregation doesn’t have LGP, prayerfully consider starting a caravan. You don’t have to know everything, or have a large number of girls. Our Caravans vary in size from 5 girls to 100 girls. You can tailor the Girl Pioneers ministry to fit your church! You can meet once a month, or four times a month. You may meet all together, or have separate leaders for each age level. You can bring in guest speakers. You can go on outings. The possibilities are endless!
The beauty of Girl Pioneers is that you are not in this alone! You have questions? Call the National Office or your district rep. You need ideas? Visit the Girl Pioneers Facebook page and ask. You are not doing Lutheran Girl Pioneers alone - you have a tremendous support system in place!
To find out more information about Lutheran Girl Pioneers, visit our website at www.lgp.org, “like” our facebook page “Lutheran Girl Pioneers”, call (608-731-5232), or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the National Office!