GREENWICH, Conn. — When he was a teenager, Dan Haugh said he was going down the wrong path.
While he was born in a religious family in Boston and went to church, religion didn’t stick into his adolescence. But after doing some soul-searching, Haugh found faith.
“This newfound faith helped me in many ways,” said the Rev. Dan Haugh, explaining that it changed his life. “I felt inspired and called to help other teenagers.”
He began to serve others at faith and community service organizations. The adults in his life then made an observation: “We see you come alive when you’re working with youth,” Haugh recalled them saying.
“That led me to seriously rethink what I wanted to do with my life,” he said while sitting under a map of New England in the parlor of Round Hill Community Church.
After graduating from high school, he studied at Gordon College, a Christian college outside of Boston. Haugh started working with youth at a church after graduation. And he still does.
Haugh, who joined the church as pastor in August, hopes to engage youth. He said he wants to create a safe, nurturing place where they “can come and feel as if they are part of a family.”
The students have so far bonded over paintball, laser tag and a mall scavenger hunt. They have also decorated a Christmas tree with gloves, hats, and mittens — items that will be donated to those who need warm winter clothing.
Haugh is also planning to have youth buy gifts for those who otherwise aren’t able to or can't afford to.
But he is well-aware that students, who are all too connected with their smartphones, laptops and tablets, may be challenging to engage with in-person events.
But Haugh's plan to provide the opportunity for students to make meaningful in-person connections is working.
On a recent service trip, students travelled to a remote area. Cellphone service? There was none.
“The first day was difficult, but by the end of it they didn’t want their cellphones back,” he said. “Sometimes the best thing we can do as people of faith is to disconnect.”
Haugh, who has nearly 14 years of experience, has focused his career on youth ministry. Before coming to Round Hill, he served as an associate pastor at The American Church in Paris for four years and as a youth pastor in Bedford, N.Y., for 10 years.
He also serves as the director of global development for Orchids of Light, an organization that connects advocates and volunteers with missions.
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