Come as you are” is a phrase I’ve come to cherish from the many years I spent in the wooden clad rows of Victory Bible Church, as Pastor Richard Williams delivered messages tailored seemingly for me. It is a phrase that allowed me, at the time, a 15-year old high school sophomore, with no true sense of self, a place to come and discover a portion of that indwelling intelligence, that voice of reason, that voice of God.
Fast forward another 15 years and I find myself inside the office of another sacred institution, and the phrase, “Come as you are,” has taken on a similar meaning, and has inspired a radical idea for the galvanization of a community, and most importantly, its young people. Inspired by Rev. Tim Griffith and coordinated by Ms. Cathy Thomas of New Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, the 1st Annual Community Wide Youth and Young Adult Fashion Show will be an event to remember.
I asked Rev. Griffith what inspired the idea to throw a fashion show and he replied, “This is about the young people, this is a chance for our youth to be seen and elevated in a positive environment. We’re trying to create that village mindset, we’re all here to lift up our children. We go see them play games, but now we can sit here in a non-competitive environment, and just praise our youth.”
My initial thoughts were that the youth were going to be dressed by clothing companies and it would probably not be tailored to their tastes, but upon further discussion with the event coordinator, Ms. Cathy Thomas, I learned that there will be 3 looks—casual, sport, and “dressy”—to which Ms. Thomas added, “I wanted to leave it with the kids being able to create their own outfits.”
Rev. Griffith stated, “A lot of our kids struggle with their self-esteem, so as soon as we said we’re throwing a fashion show, the first thing they said was, ‘I’m not modeling.’ So here’s a chance to help build their self-esteem, and Cathy is excellent at that.”
Ms. Thomas, who’s working with the youth on their walks, said “I prayed my way through it, and then I asked God to show me which way to go with the youth so that they can inspire and be inspired. I just want God to show up and show out that day for the youth, because they shouldn’t feel like they have to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. So, Saturday will allow them to be youths and it will be all about them.”
The 2-hour event begins at 3pm and is expected to be a one-of-a-kind showcase of the talent and creativity of the young people in our community. Kids who are not members of the church were also encouraged to participate and will be modeling in the fashion show. Youth servers will learn hospitality and customer service skills through their serving of tacos from the delectable taco bar. Over 6 local businesses have all volunteered services in-kind from cake pops to decorations, even the runway ramp.
From time immemorial, there’s been the obvious divide between generations. The youth feel the elders are old and out of touch with an ever changing and ever expanding world, and the elders hold on to the values and traditions of the times they remember, and the result is a degeneration of communication and lack of mutual understanding. Cultural and historical information, and stories cease to connect with the next generation, and an overall respect is seemingly lost. And according to Rev. Griffith, “The more we make the church inviting, and kid-friendly, the more kids will show up and want to be part of it. This will allow us to bridge that gap from the older generation, to the newer generation.”
It’s imperative that we render support to our local institutions that take firm stances on the well being of our young people. Because believe it or not, leadership changes, and if we are training our children to step into these positions of leadership, then we can expect that when their time comes, we will begin to see the changes that we’ve strived to make, come to fruition. This event is a representation of the idea of change and transformation, because it’s truly not about the clothes you wear, it’s about the transformable soul you wear within.