Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors. The people of The United Methodist Church.

Outreach through Involvement: Shan Sixbey

Involvement--what it takes to “do” God-focused outreach. If you have ever met or had a conversation with Shan Sixbey, then you know how “involved” she is. And if you don’t watch out, you will see yourself getting involved, too.

Shan’s primary outreach is through the Scouting organizations. She and her family have all been involved with scouting. Through the UMC’s sponsorship of Scouts, she found an outlet not only as a young girl growing up but today as an adult scout leader. Referring to the stated mission/goal of Girl Scouts, she sees Scouts as an organization that encourages young people to grow in courage and to build character and confidence rather than one that concentrates solely on earning badges.

At Beech Grove UMC, Shan became involved in the PRAY religious emblems program through David Willis, Lydia Simpson’s son, who was the PRAY coordinator. The program appealed to her because this is an award badge both boys and girls can achieve; both her son Caedmon and her daughter Cat have earned it. There were four levels to PRAY, recently expanded to five levels, according to age. Shan currently coordinates the program here at First UMC Fox Hill where it is offered every other year.

She noted that not all scouts have a place they consider their “church home,” but that they often call the church where they attend meetings their church. At Beech Grove UMC, Scout Sunday has been the most heavily attended service of the year! The church scouts ensure it remains so as they continue this tradition.

Shan reflected that her connection to Girl Scouts, particularly Sea Scouts deepened, when the girls began calling her “Mom.” The girls had all joined Sea Scouts, a co-ed part of the Boy Scout program; and the boys soon followed suit calling her “Mom” as well. She emphasizes that success depends on making a long-term commitment and, most importantly, on building relationships. Love is an essential part of this relationship as it allows for trust. Then, she notes, it is easier to share her faith story when someone expresses interest; even then she prays as did the Apostle Paul, “Lord, guide my speech.” Her co-worker/Scouter, Norm Effinger at Girls Scouts and Sea Scouts, has recently reintroduced the “Scout’s Own” service, a time of worship when the “Great Scoutmaster in the Sky” is recognized, to encourage each scout, regardless of religious background, to pursue their own faith journey.

In determining which programs to become involved in (yes, others besides Scouts), she cites that discovering a good fit is a guide. One organization that appeals to her, MOPS or Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers, “feeds” her, as she mentors these women, encouraging their growth and confidence as mothers. Additionally, she has participated in Karate for Christ and notes that after her kids’ involvement ended, she kept going. At the YMCA, where she is a lifeguard and has worked as a swim instructor, she becomes a compassionate listener to women members sharing their stories. Finally United Campus Ministries is a natural fit for her, as her father, Don Kelso, had been the Board chairperson for UCM in Northern Virginia, and her current work is as an adjunct professor at CNU.

All this involvement comes with a focus on God, taking God into the community, in workplaces and in volunteer organizations. Where are you involved? Take God with you there.

*Note: Our Mission and Outreach Chairperson is Jim Bly. If you have an interest in a type of outreach or mission for our church, he is interested in hearing your ideas and inviting your participation.

Submitted by Judy Grigg
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