Mentoring the Next Generation

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

What better Bible verses for Matt Acton, whose ministry serves God by working to transform young lives?

Matt joined the Central staff in 2005 as director of Student  Ministry. With the rise in the number of middle school students, another leader, Joe Strube, joined Central staff to lead the High School Ministry. Currently, Matt has returned to his previous role, which includes middle and high school students. He also is responsible for mentoring ministry intern Monyae Smalls from Loyola University. This summer, Matt will lead two mission trips. In June, a group of high school students will serve at Cuirim House in Nogales, Mexico, and in August, Matt will lead middle and high school students to serve in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Both adult and student leaders who serve alongside Matt comment on his “unique gifts to understand, care for and nurture not only middle schoolers, but high school ‘sidekicks’ and adult leaders,” to quote Katy Annis, who has been working with Matt in Whirlwind, the middle school ministry, for the past 12 years. Katy is grateful for the intergenerational relationships that student ministry fosters, as is Jonathan Hargis, who volunteers with Storm, the high school group. He says, “The joy that we experience as a community of believers – both young and old – really is the core of Storm!” He adds, “Most importantly, Matt understands that the heart of Student Ministry is and should always be about Jesus.  No matter what topic we tackle, the conversations are always about where Jesus is present and moving.” Katy concludes, I “am beyond grateful for the hard work, dedication, and commitment that Matt brings to this work.”

Given his emphasis on transformation, it’s not surprising that Matt is in an intensive 22-month fellowship program of spiritual formation, “Coracle,” which involves recommended readings, spiritual disciplines, written reflection and retreats. Matt is currently reading “Strength of Love” by Martin Luther King and recently read “Seeking God” by Trevor Hudson. He enjoys learning, and finding time for quiet reflection, and study is life-giving to him.

Matt was blessed with a Christian upbringing. His family was active in their home church in Pennsylvania, where he sang in the choir and helped with Vacation Bible School. His faith grew when his siblings started attending Summer’s Best Two Weeks (SB2W), a Christian sports camp on Lake Gloria in Pennsylvania, and Matt began serving at the camp in many different positions. After college, he worked as a youth minister in Ligonier and is thankful for being mentored by a pair of youth workers.

What brought Matt to this area was Loyola University Maryland, where he majored in elementary education. It was Loyola’s InterVarsity faculty advisor, Kevin Hula, who introduced Matt to Central Presbyterian Church. Matt and his wife Maureen also met other Central members Rob and Kathy Smith through InterVarsity Fellowship at Loyola University. 

Matt and Maureen are the parents of four children, college student Michaela, two high schoolers, Joey and Will, and fourth grader Cassie. Maureen also is in ministry and both have very full schedules. Matt’s dream vacation would be to take his family snow skiing, which was a favorite activity for his family as he was growing up in Pennsylvania.