Thomas Drook is a current Sophomore at Brebeuf Jesuit, and for Thomas, service to others isn’t just a mantra he learned at school – it’s a way of life. So much so that last fall, a Deacon at his home church – Second Presbyterian – nominated him to serve as a Youth Deacon. With only a handful of Youth Deaconships available each term, such a nomination is a high honor and one that Thomas has not taken lightly.

Second Presbyterian is home to over 3,400 official members and is considered one of the largest congregations in Indianapolis, serving underserved populations throughout the Midwest and beyond.  Deacons and Youth Deacons are the leaders of the church, making decisions on behalf of the congregation, running over 1,000 meetings and events each year, and continuing to be outstanding service members to their community. Thomas is one of only three Youth Deacons in his class, which will serve for a three-year term alongside the 16 Deacons.

Thomas’s passion for service can be sensed by anyone that meets him, and it caught the attention of a former Deacon who spotted him out of the thousands of church members and extended a nomination last fall. Since that time, Thomas has been eagerly learning what the role entails and the impact it will have on his church, his community and his life. This formative role will no doubt continue to shape Thomas’s view of service for decades to come, and we can’t wait to see all that he does for the world as a result. To learn more about Thomas’s recent appointment as Youth Deacon, continue reading for the full interview.

You were recently selected as a Youth Deacon at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. What is a Youth Deacon, and how you will you serve the church in this role?

A Youth Deacon is almost exactly the same as a regular Deacon in my church, both of which are a three-year term and are the main leaders in service for the Church. Deacons are, especially for my church, very important, because there are over 1,000 meetings/events every year to be run. Nearly every service event is run by the Deacons, and always has been. For example, we serve around 200 families during an event called “Christmas Benevolence.” This event gives healthy bagged groceries to these families during the holiday season and truly makes a great difference in those peoples’ lives. Another aspect of a Deaconship is the role in our Church’s worshiping services. As a Deacon, we can help out in many ways in our services, such as reading scripture, helping prepare communion, etc. Personally, I recently prayed for the water of Baptism on Sunday for two families presenting their children into the church. This is pretty much making the water not for normal use, and for a spiritual use. There are really only three differences between a Deacon and a Youth Deacon. One is that we’re of course younger, and usually nominated in our Sophomore year. Two is that our main committee of service is chosen for us. My committee is the congregational meeting, which deals with more serious and personal issues in the church. For example, we deliver flowers to those who have lost a loved one. The last difference is that Youth Deacons have significantly less people in the program.

What is the process to become a Youth Deacon?

The process of becoming a Deacon is not too terribly difficult. The hardest part is that you can’t sign up, and someone on our church nominating committee has to nominate you from the thousands of people in our church. You know you are nominated by a personal phone call from someone of the nominating committee. This call is usually sometime in the fall.  After that, assuming you accept the nomination, you simply attend the Deacon meetings and dinners, until late January or early February, where you are officially put in place. This happens by going to the Congregational meeting, a meeting in front of the entire population. During this meeting, the new year budget is discussed, and following that is the Deacon approval. This is when the congregation as a whole is asked if they approve of the committees chosen, and as long as they all say they do, then the nomination is then fully in place. Two weeks later, during the 9:30 church service, the old class of Deacons whose term is up is acknowledged and the new class is officially ordained. Following this, every Sunday at 11:00 a.m., the new Deacons take Deacon training, and learn all the bells and whistles of the job and how to do it.

How many other adults and students serve as Deacons and Youth Deacons for Second Presbyterian?

Out of the 3,400 official members, in which there are thousands more who are not members but attend, there are five to six total Youth Deacons and somewhere around 32 regular Deacons. In my Deacon class, there are three Youth Deacons and 16 adults.

Is this a role you’ve always wanted?

This is a role I have always been interested in. I didn’t really want to be one for a while, because I had no idea what it was or how to be one. When I did find out about it, I did really want to become a Deacon, because I’ve always wanted to help as many people as I can in the best way I can. Even if it’s just a small thing, I try to help people like how Jesus told his people to do. Notice how I said “try,” because I am nowhere close to that.

Tell us a bit about the service you’ve previously done at Second Presbyterian.

I can’t really name everything I’ve done at Second, because the list is a bit long, but I’ll name a few things. I’ve worked at Kenya Carnival which is a fundraiser for a school in Kenya, the Crop Walk which raises money for international hunger, Christmas Benevolence as mentioned before, Interfaith Hospitality Network which keeps homeless families at our church for a week, I assist in the Toddler Room on Sundays, special events with families throughout the year, preparation of communion, and of course, four mission trips. I have been to Olney, IL, Cincinnati, OH, Lafayette, IN and Chicago, IL. The trips were four to six days of local service in the area. I found Olney, Illinois to be particularly interesting, because it was such a small town, and you could really tell there was lots of help needed. The satisfaction of the job being done and the smiles from the people you’re helping is all worth a week of your summer.

Do you feel serving the church in this way will be a lifelong passion? Why?

Most definitely! I have thought about pursuing the role of youth leader as a career or maybe something related to service. If this doesn’t work out, I’m still going to try and spend most of the time I can in my later life helping those in need and donating my time for others. I can’t see myself stop helping people for any reason, really. I figure I have such a great life with my mom and sister helping me get along, and I almost feel an obligation to share my life and give hope to as many people as I can.