Our Tribute to John Hancock
from the John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry
School of Religion, La Sierra University
Ten years ago the North American Division voted to establish youth ministry resource centers as a response to Project Affirmation and the Valuegenesis research conducted by the Divisionís Office of Education.
La Sierra Universityís School of Religion wanted to respond positively to this initiative and under the direction of Dr. Bailey Gillespie the resource center was conceptualized. The challenge was to name this
resource and research center after someone that personalized the theory of childrenís and youth ministry in the Adventist church, someone that had practiced ministry and impacted the generations of the Godís church.
We knew at once that John hancock was just such a person.
Dr. Gillespie, director of the center, began his own ministry with youth in workshops around Europe in the 70s initiated by Elder Hancock and was nurtured early on as a Pathfinder and youth in the church by the
ministry of John Hancock as Conference, Union, and world leader of the Youth Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
John Hancock was eternally young. Young to those he mentored in ministry, young to the youth who minister in local chruches, and young to pastors that caught their first glimpse of what youth ministry might be by following his example.
John Hancock was radically creative. When the Hancock Center opened and he was asked to be the founding father of the center, he jumped at the challenge. He was modest and careful not to draw attention to himself in the work of the center, always supporting it, personally bringing small, but significant donations to support the centerís mission. Dropping by books that had inspired his ministry, and selecting momentos of his ministry for our display--always momentos brought with the memories of people whose lives had been touched by his ministry. He always stopped to talk about our projects. As we shared, he would interject how they could benefit youth or the church. His counsel was always appreciated and usually to the point and important.
John Hancock was a model of what youth ministry is as an example of the life of Christ. The Hancock Center has as its mission to break down the barriers that separate youth from the church and to create resources and provide training that impacts change in the church, while at the same time emphasizing the grace of Jesus. John Hancock personified our mission. His work in the church and in the lives of youth has had a momentous impact on how the local church responds to the needs of preteens and teenagers. Pathfinders now flourish throughout the world because of his ministry. Youth pastors nurture their congregations because of the model of compassion John Hancock always shared.
We at the Hancock Center in the School of Religion will miss this giant in ministry. The center will try to live up to its founding light. In the Kingdom, any youth there that we have had an impact on, any programs
we might have had a part in creating, and any creative ministries in the church that meet youthís needs, are because of the model of ministry that John Hancock brought to our center.
He will be deeply missed. And in the Second Coming, we know that he will not be alone in the Kingdom of God. The young people inspired to be different because of his life, ministry, and mission will crowd him around.
Praise God for his life and years of ministry and service. We are proud to be called the John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry.
V. Bailey Gillespie, Ph.D., Director of the John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry, School of Religion, La Sierra University.
Cheryl Webster, Assistant Director, and all the student staff and graduate assistants of the Hancock Center, School of Religion, La Sierra University.