IYC, Church of God Ministries Honor Youth Leader for Longevity, Legacy
By Carl Stagner
Meet Madonna Sturgill. She’s been the lay youth minister at Neon First Church of God in Kentucky for the past fifty-three years! Having taken youth groups to the International Youth Convention of the Church of God in cities across the country spanning the decades, Madonna Sturgill is certainly one of a kind. It’s no wonder IYC and Church of God Ministries formally recognized her for the longevity and legacy of loving leadership she’s already left among multiple generations of students.
“I began after I graduated from college, was married, and expecting my first child,” Madonna recollects. “Our youth attended the first time IYC was in Buffalo in 1990. We had 47 students and leaders attend. We’ve attended 14 IYCs since, in cities like San Antonio, Phoenix, Memphis, Orlando, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati.”
Though Madonna never got to attend IYC or a state convention as a student herself, she’s definitely more than made up for that in the years since.
“Some of my greatest blessings were seeing students saved at conventions and coming home to follow in baptism,” she remembers. “Five students met in youth and were later married. My grandson and his wife met in youth and were later married. I have had three generations of one family in youth ministry. There are currently several former youth who attend, and bring their children and youth. My two daughters and four grandchildren have all been in the youth group. I receive many thank-you notes and letters of appreciation from former students.”
This year, Neon First Church of God was represented at IYC in San Antonio, Texas, by 13 students and 16 family members and leaders. She notes that twice she’s taken thirty-five students to IYC. San Antonio was particularly special after the pandemic-induced hiatus. “IYC had inspirational speakers and Spirit-filled singing, which challenged both our students and leaders. We loved being a part of preparing food packets for Guatemala. Our nightly devotions were a time of sharing our hearts and of drawing closer to God and each other. The Silent Walk was, and is always, a blessing.”
Neon, Kentucky, of course, has been in the headlines this summer due to devastating floods. The church building and homes of the congregation sustained serious damage. Madonna’s own home still has four rooms requiring complete restoration, though she thanks God her house was not a total loss (as many neighbors suffered). Nevertheless, Madonna persists in ministry, in whichever manner the Lord leads.
“I love youth ministry,” she concludes. “My life has been blessed to be able to teach students to love Jesus and to serve others.”
Learn more about IYC and Church of God youth ministries at www.jesusisthesubject.org/chog-youth.
Feature (top) photo: Madonna Sturgill pictured at IYC2022 in San Antonio, Texas.