Chapel Hill: Opinion

August 8, 2014

Victoria Smith: Rites of Passage leads youth in young adult community

The Christian Rites of Passage program taught me many lessons (referred as “Passages”) on the importance of my family, respect for self and others, decision-making, health, and social graces/dining etiquette.

On Saturday, June 28, St. Joseph CME Church held their first Christian Rites of Passage ceremony at Hillsong Church in Chapel Hill. This was one of the most exciting and best days of my life. I felt very blessed because I completed the requirements to graduate from my church’s first Rites of Passage.

The Christian Rites of Passage program teaches youth, ages 12-17, how to transition from childhood into adulthood and become “Great Leaders” in our community, nation and world. The young ladies were identified as “Daughters of Imani” (meaning daughters of faith) and the young men were called the Young Lions” (meaning brave in stature with great strength).

This program was a vision of the Rev. Lavisha S. Williams, shared with church leaders Dennis and Roxyette Farrington. She asked them to lead youth of our church as well as youth in the community.

The Christian Rites of Passage program taught me many lessons (referred as “Passages”) on the importance of my family, respect for self and others, decision-making, health, and social graces/dining etiquette. I also learned about budgeting, credit, and saving from representatives of PNC bank. This particular passage helped me learn to manage money from my first part-time job. I also learned about giving, helping others in need, and the importance of tithing. Participating in the 11 passages taught me responsibility and empowered me to take actions to ensure a wonderful future.

Becoming a Daughter of Imani forced me to investigate topics and interview people on various subjects. I had to write about my experiences and present the material to the program leaders and the youth participants. This experience enabled me to learn how to connect and communicate better with the adults and youth of my church. It also drastically improved my oral and written communications skills.

I had never before been involved with the adults or the youth of my church. I really did not want to participate in the program but my parents encouraged me to try it. After becoming a member, I realized that I was learning things that would not only help me now but would also help in my college life and beyond. Not only did I remain in the program but all 15 members finished the program with the help and guidance of the leaders.

The Christian Rites of Passage Culmination had phenomenal turnout.

The Daughters of Imani dressed in eloquent white tulle gowns and the Young Lions wore tuxedos while dancing to ballroom music. Waking up that morning with so many preparations made me more anxious about the ceremony.

When the program was approaching, one of the leaders announced, “It’s time to put on the proper attire.” It hit me. The time spent with the Christian Rites of Passage program was at its climax. The culmination ceremony consisted of many tears of pure joy from all the parents as well as all of us. Seeing how proud my parents, grandparents, and other relatives were with how I’ve grown out of my childish ways (1 Corinthians 13:11) made me very happy. I enjoyed every moment of it and thought, one day I hope to share this awesome event with my children and my grandchildren.

At the end of the ceremony, the Daughters of Imani and the Young Lions demonstrated the social graces and dining etiquette skills that we learned while friends and families watched excitingly.

Here’s what I will carry with me:

• If You Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
• Communication is the key to success
• Love others as you love yourself
• Treat everyone the way you want to be treated
• Give to those in need
• Share with others what you have learned
• Never Make a Promise you can’t keep, and
• Always finish what you start regardless of the situation.

Now that I have learned and been taught, I am eagerly ready to do as the African proverb states, “One who learns, teaches.”

Victoria Smith, 16, is a rising junior at Carrboro High School.

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