Certified MADE

This design (Certified MADE) was first conceived while I served as an interim youth minister at New Life Presbyterian Church in College Park, Ga.  I was asked by the senior pastor at the time to help the youth and young adult ministries stay afloat during their period of transition.

In the spring of ’09, Young Jeezy hit his stride on hip-hop radio and MADE was becoming popular on MTV, so, in preparation for New Life’s Annual Youth Week, I thought to intersect the two with a biblical theme rooted in Psalm 139:14 which reads,  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.”  The real inspiration, though, came from viewing Kiri Davis’ A Girl Like MeBelow is a letter printed in the Youth Day bulletin describing how the Youth Week theme (and by extension the concept for this design) came to be.

This experience was evidence for me of the ways in which popular culture (Young Jeezy/MTV’s MADE), independent media (A Girl Like Me), biblical texts (Psalm 139) and  black history (Brown v. Board of Education/Drs. Kenneth & Mamie Clark) can be put in conversation with each other in powerful ways.

I’ve since preached from the passage and wrestled with the narcissism and self-righteousness that scriptures like this can breed (see verses 21-22), but I still see tremendous value in reminding people of their (and others’) intrinsic value and worth by virtue of our “creation.”

A MESSAGE FROM THE YOUTH MINISTER
New Life Presbyterian Church
Youth Day
April 26, 2009

The theme for Youth Week 2009 was born in Sunday School. Several months ago, we watched a short documentary titled “A Girl Like Me” directed by 17-year-old Kiri Davis. In a high school literature class, she learned about the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that desegregated public schools in the United States.  She became aware of the “doll tests” administered by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark. The Clarks’ goal was to test whether “separate but un-equal” schools led black children to think lowly of themselves.

In the “doll tests,” the Clarks used four plastic dolls, identical to each other except for color.  Two were “black” and two were “white.” They showed the dolls to black children between the ages of three and seven and asked them questions to determine which one they liked best. When asked which they preferred, the majority selected the white doll.  The Clarks concluded that “prejudice, discrimination, and segregation” caused black children to develop a sense of inferiority and self-hatred.

Spurred by her own curiosity, Davis wondered how far we have come since then. She says, “I decided to re-conduct the ‘doll test’ (because) I thought that by including this experiment in my film, I would shed new light on how society affects black children today and how little has actually changed.” In her tests, conducted with young children in her
community, fifteen out of twenty-one children preferred the white doll.

In Sunday School, we wrestled with how and why this could be and sought the scriptures for solutions. The youth in the class were clear that influences from television, radio, movies, and (yes) people in their own communities contribute to young people having a sense of low self-esteem and self-hatred. They were also clear that, since God has created all of us, then there is no reason for anyone to feel like they are “less-than” because of the color of their skin, their culture, or their heritage!

Our theme for Youth Week, Take Me As I Am: Fearfully & Wonderfully Made is to encourage all of us in the belief that we are valuable, important, special, and gifted because we are created by God. God has made us. Sometimes we can get distracted and believe that society makes us, our friends make us, or that we “make” ourselves, but Psalm 139:14 reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and God’s works are wonderful!

As this work started long before this Youth Day, we pray that God continues to move as we celebrate the gift of the Youth of New Life who are Certified and Made by God Almighty!

Peace and grace,

Victor Cyrus-Franklin
Interim Minister of Youth

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