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Pierce Chapel UMC’s KILT ministry helps young men grow closer to Christ, each other

June 19, 2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor

The kilt may be the traditional garment of Scotsmen, but to a group of young men in Midland, receiving a kilt is an honor, a distinction earned for years of commitment, service, and leadership.

Pierce Chapel United Methodist Church’s Knights in Leadership Training (KILT) program is a fellowship and leadership ministry for high school males. Begun seven years ago by church member Stephen Childers, it’s designed to help young men – all in ninth through twelfth grades – develop deep friendships with each other and strong foundations of faith in Christ.

“I was looking for something to help these guys be godly men,” Childers said.

Psalm 145:4, which says, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts,” has become a KILT motto.

“When we were just starting our group, one of our students opened his Bible to the psalm that says, ‘We are here to pass on the good deeds from one generation to the next,’ and that is exactly why we are here,” Childers said.

The group meets once a month to eat, hang out, study, and talk. The topics discussed change from month to month, but they’re always rooted in God’s Word.

“I really try to bring out scripture and let them talk it out and discuss things,” Childers said. “I let them talk, ask questions, and explore through scripture what it means to be a biblical man, a brother, a husband.”

KILT members can earn awards for regular meeting attendance and volunteer service. After earning 1,200 points, they’re awarded a kilt. More points can earn them a harp pin, a thistle pin, a rampant lion pin, and a Celtic cross belt and buckle. A sporran is awarded to distinguished KILT members – those who earn 1,200 points or more – upon high school graduation.

“The pins, belt, and sporran are all accessories to the kilt and provide recognition for continued effort beyond earning the kilt,” Childers said. “We try to convey that a life dedicated to following Christ does not stop at finding salvation, but is a path of continued growth in our relationship with God and living in His service.”

Philip Korytoski said he made a good decision when he joined KILT four years ago as a high school freshman.

“KILT led to a lot of growth and a lot of volunteer opportunities,” he said.

Korytoski, a May 2021 graduate of Harris County High School in Hamilton who is headed to Berry College this fall, earned his kilt by mowing lawns, helping around the church, installing a wheelchair ramp, building a new walkway, and more.

The time spent with like-minded believers has helped forge friendships that will last a lifetime, he said. As a young high-school student, he looked up to the older students as role models. As an older student, he became a role model. Those relationships played a critical role in the development of his faith.

“Having guys who actually care about me and pray for me was a big part of my growth,” he said.

Stephen Graves, also a 2021 Harris County High School graduate and member of Pierce Chapel UMC, initially thought KILT would be a good way to get to know a good group of high school guys. It’s turned out to be much more, he said.

“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot closer to God through KILT,” he said. “feel like I know myself a lot better and I’m a lot more confident in my relationship with God and other people.”

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