LEAVENWORTH — The awkward age that fifth- and sixth-graders share is known as “tweenagers.” As young people cross the bridge from childhood to teen, sometimes the transition can be confusing and stressful.

The Faith Evangelistic Center in Leavenworth decided to bridge the gap and ensure the “tween” years would be smoother and more enjoyable to navigate.

The church organized Living in Truth Tweens Ministry as an outlet for young people in the Leavenworth area.

“Living in Truth Tweens Ministry seeks to show them that, during this time of transition in their lives, there is a way to live completely transparent that is fun, safe and full of joy just like our God,” said Tomika Coffey. “Christ is emphasized here as the center of who we are and what we do. He is the reason we are LIT (Living in Truth).“

Tomika has been involved with the ministry for the past two years. When the need arose for a new leader due to restructuring in the youth program, she enthusiastically stepped in and volunteered.

“Without a leader this ministry was in danger of being dissolved,” said Tomika. “The Lord began speaking to me about this ministry being vital to the identity and development of this age group and I believe in my heart that it would have been dangerous to allow such a tragedy to happen to them so I did what God had spoken to my heart and stepped into the leadership position and allowed God to lead me and transition me from leader to pastor.”

When the children arrive at the events each Thursday, they enjoy good food and fellowship. Tomika said they can come inside and talk to their friends and if they arrive before the bus gets there or before start time at 6:30 p.m., they can stay outside and chat before dinner, which is provided by the ministry.

The events that follow include Offering Time when Tomika said, “the kids are allowed to sow or give into their own ministry.“

Praise and Worship follows. Then the kids divide into small and large groups for lesson time. Finally, after a spirited game time, they head back home.

The ministry stresses that the group is for all races and backgrounds regardless of past or present lifestyles. Pastor Eboni Parris also helps lead the kids and small group leaders include Pastor Julia Banks, Elder Richard Wilcox and Shari Rodgers.

One of the challenges for the ministry leaders is getting the kids to be open about who they really are without being ashamed.

“Many of these tweens have been holding back for so long about who they really are that many of them have no clue as to who that person is,” Tomika said. “So getting them to discover who they really are and reveal that person is sometimes very difficult.”