Wednesday afternoons, these three and several other students hang out at church for the afternoon and evening. After school, adults harvest students from both middle and high schools and bring them to church for the opportunity to be with friends, receive tutoring, homework help and, most important, attention and care. They are fed a nutritious meal and HeBrews opens.
Kristi and David Sepkowitz, by day postmasters at Capitan and Alto, are baristas Wednesday evenings. HeBrews Coffee and Smoothie Bar is a part of the total package at First Baptist. Two years ago, Kristi found restaurant booths at a Mescalero establishment no longer in business, got a good deal, and outfitted the space at First Baptist to make it a comfortable gathering place for students. Wednesdays will find one or both of them behind the bar, serving hot or iced coffee, smoothies and fruit.
Both the meal and beverages are free of charge to students. So is the attention and love.
Youth pastor Brandon Phillips and wife Jenna, along with their three kids, arrived at First Baptist eight months ago from Jacksonville, Fla., with a desire to serve Ruidoso’s youth. Brandon, a guitarist, also leads worship ministries at the church. Working side by side with Dr. Alan Stoddard, pastor, the Phillips are excited about living in the mountains and in the Ruidoso community. Phillips is grateful for adults like the Sepkowitz’s who volunteer their time to make a difference in the youth of First Baptist.
Wednesday evenings finds older students mentoring younger ones, alongside adults who bring varied backgrounds to the table. Former missionaries, college students and teachers help tutor students who may need assistance. At 6 p.m., Phillips leads the youth in games, study and worship. Girls and guys split off into smaller groups to end the evening, giving them time to share openly with adult facilitators like Kristi.
“You’ll find the friendliest, most accepting youth group here,” says Sepkowitz. She and David began to work with youth when their two children were teens and have been involved at First Baptist for more than 14 years. They’re not likely to quit anytime soon.
First Baptist Church is located at 270 Country Club Dr. in Ruidoso. For more information, contact the church at: 575-257-2081.