"The Best Party Ever"
220 youth participated in the General Synod Youth Program this summer in Grand Rapids, MI. A major part of that program was the opportunity to serve in the community of Grand Rapids through mission service projects. Youth served with the ministries of local UCC churches, at UCC-related outreach agencies providing emergency food and services, with Habitat for Humanity on serveral building and maintenance projects. The youth served in the community for 2 1/2 days as well as fully participated in other parts of the Synod experience. During a workshop led by national staff of Wider Church Ministries, Justice and Witness Ministries, and Local Church Ministries, after this service, youth described the experience as "awesome", "challenging", "the best party ever!"
The workshop encouraged the youth to go deeper. Youth recognized poverty in their midst in the food pantries and in the substandard housing in the neighborhoods where they were working. They continued to go deeper as they discussed with each other the poverty they encounter or are part of in their home communities and schools. And then the youth gave each other ideas for ways to continue their involvement in poverty alleviation that includes direct service, identifying root causes of poverty, and working to re-shape those structures.
Beyond "Being Nice"
Youth considered Scripture passages such as Micah 6:8 and Matthew 22:36-40 with lenses beyond what those passages speaks to us as individuals and how we try to be "good people" to how God speaks to us as communities and how we can shape the world in which we live to enable all people to live abundant lives.
And, indeed, that IS the "Best Party Ever" - to participate in God's mission of abundance.
Thank you, youth, for your wonderful service and inspiration to commitment for change.