In a few weeks - on May 5 at precisely 11 a.m. - with a room full of anxious teens and parents, I will begin auditions for our summer Shakespeare camp youth production of "Romeo and Juliet."
Directing and "playing" with adults and youth on stage is one of the great joys of my ministry.
While some people find it a bit odd that a minister is involved in directing secular plays for teens, it's actually quite natural for me.
See, 39 years ago when I first became a teen, I was in a terrible spot. One of my parents was an abusive alcoholic and life was, to me, dark and senseless.
I was sad and introverted and actually felt quite hopeless and nearly despondent.
Two things changed my life. I found a church that treated me with kindness and love and I discovered theater and found a place to "play" and be accepted and applauded. Both made all the difference in my life, they probably saved it, and certainly transformed it.
Ironically, I drifted away from theater and the church in my 20s and 30s, but both always beckoned to me.
In my 40s I wandered into a United Church of Christ. The spirit of love was strong there, and one thing led to another.
Soon, I started a youth theater ministry, joined the church and then eventually closed my law firm, sold our house and went to seminary.
And now here I am, full circle, happily back in a church and doing plays helping youth, broken and unbroken, connect to community through plays. It is pretty awesome. God works in mysterious and glorious and wonderful ways.
And what is really cool is that my theater and church work here has led me to volunteer work on the board of directors of an amazingly well-run nonprofit organization in our county called Brevard Family Partnership.
BFP is responsible for the care and protection of our vulnerable children and youth. They do this work with an impressive top-notch staff and board. These folks are incredible, compassionate and dedicated, cost conscience and, best of all, they are transforming lives for the better.
In partnership with other entities, BFP helps families in situations that could lead to child abuse, neglect and abandonment, preventing such crises and helping them through them, too.
This type of assistance helps keeps kids and families out of the foster system to begin with.
And, of course, for those from broken families, BFP works hard to compassionately provide the widest array of help it can such as comprehensive oversight, foster care, group care, family conferences, health services, adoption and independent living support for older youth.
Brevard Family Partnership's mission is to protect children and strengthen families and change lives and by God they do it well. It's truly one of the highlights of my month to attend meetings and hear how BFP is making a difference and to witness God's love at work through this organization and its extremely competent leaders.
I love being a minister. I find it a privilege and an honor to be in this vocation. But nothing I do makes me feel more blessed than working with youth and adults, whether up front in plays open to the public or with Brevard Family Promise behind the scenes as a board member.
Both of these efforts are about transforming lives, and both do that well and matter much in our community.
The Rev. Scott Elliott is pastor of Riviera United Church of Christ in Palm Bay and the director of Community Family Player's 2012 "Romeo and Juliet." Visit Riviera UCC's website at rivieraucc.org.