Lydia Cordie is a bi-vocational youth minister at St. Peter, Erindale, a member of York-Credit Valley’s Area Council, co-chair of the Children and Youth Ministry Taskforce in York-Credit Valley, and a graduate of the Diocese of Toronto Youth Ministry Apprenticeship Program. She is currently enrolled in Education for Ministry, a program of theological education for lay people. She’s also a social worker and currently works at CAMH as part of a research team.
I was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. I have been working with children and youth for over 15 years. My initial involvement in children and youth ministry happened at my local church, Cathedral Episcopal de la Santisima Trinidad in Havana. In that context, I was privileged to serve as a Sunday School teacher to children and youth between the ages of seven and 14. I immigrated to Canada in 2006 and served as a volunteer Sunday School teacher’s assistant at Erin Mills Baptist Church for a couple of years. I became the youth minister at St. Peter, Erindale in 2013. Since then, I have been responsible for all things youth-related for those between the ages of 11 to 18.
As a child, I attended Sunday School, and it was there that I learned about Jesus, God’s love, the Bible and prayer. When I was about 13 years old, I remembered asking God why he was not answering my prayers (as the situation at home was extremely difficult) and telling him that I was going to stop coming to church. And so I did. Interestingly, at the time, my mom started attending church regularly. I returned to my childhood church at the age of 17. It was there that my mom introduced me to Eusebio, my lovely husband. Back then, seeing the way he lived out his faith on a daily basis inspired me to do the same, and still does to this day.
The best part of my ministry work is sharing the Gospel and spending time with the youth. Whether we are reading the Bible, praying together, playing board games, running the Coffee Hour, preparing to lead a worship service, having a family potluck dinner or getting footage for the youth group promo video, I see all of these as fantastic opportunities to encourage the youth in their spiritual growth as they become the person God intended them to be.
I believe the work that children and youth ministers do is extremely valuable. We are coming into contact with children and youth at a time in their lives where they are making sense of the world around them, who they are and who God is to them. This work it exciting and comes with great responsibility. Due to all its responsibilities and the many hats I wear – minister, friend, event planner, mentor, trainer, etc. – sometimes the work feels overwhelming. It can also feel isolating and lonely at times. Over the years, I have found that having a solid ministry plan, practicing self-care, as well as sharing experiences, success stories and resources with the other ministers can contribute to reducing my sense of feeling overwhelmed and isolated.
I am extremely excited about new intergenerational ministry initiative we have at St. Peter’s. The initiative started last year when the Rev. Maria Nightingale, our associate priest and chaplain to seniors, and I got together to discuss what we could do to facilitate relationship-building and faith-sharing among the seniors and youths in our parish. The first event to formally bring the seniors and youths together happened in March 2018. The focus of the event was to teach both groups how to write a mini spiritual autobiography, so they felt more comfortable to speak about their faith. The event was a success! Building on the success of this event, we launched Cooking with the Bible. Cooking with the Bible gives seniors and youth a chance to bond with one another as they cook, eat, laugh, pray, worship, learn about Christian spiritual practices and the types of food people ate during biblical times. So far, lentil soup, bread, honey and hummus seemed to be the favourites. We have yet to cook locusts, but we have not had any request for them!
I’m also thrilled about being part of York Credit Valley’s Area Council. I am also the co-chair of our area’s Children and Youth Ministry Taskforce. As the co-chair, I get to leverage my skills, knowledge and talents to contribute to the work of the Area Council in empowering children and youth ministers to teach, and model how to be followers of Jesus Christ in today’s world.
(Five years from now), I hope to continue to work in youth ministry, as this is one of my passions. Being a millennial, I am also aware of the need for young adult ministry. Lately, I have been discerning if this an area of ministry that God wants me to become involved in. Other than that, the possibilities are limitless, so regardless of what I end up doing, I hope it will allow me faithfully serve God.
One of my favourite passages from scripture is the gospel passage found in Matthew 6:25-34. I used to read this passage every night during my first year in Canada. Every time I read it, I felt that it had been written just for me. I also felt less anxious about being on my own in a foreign country (which had a language I did not speak), having no money, no family or friends. Looking back, I could see God’s love for me. In time, I met really caring people and Canada became my home. Nowadays, whenever I read this passage, I still feel a sense of comfort and tranquility. I am certain that no matter wherever I go and whatever circumstances I might encounter, God is always with me.