May 7, 2013

Psalm 93
2 Chronicles 15:1-15
Revelation 21:15-22

For example, the illegal border crossing (at the Congregational Church in Exeter, NH  was set up in a dark room, with fog machines running to make it even harder to see. Adult volunteers were standing by with flashlights waiting to catch anyone who tried to cross. Another room in the church was set up as the official border crossing offices. The adults were told to make the process difficult for the youth, presenting them forms to fill out written in gibberish to represent language barriers and the legal jargon refugees are often faced with. Other adults acted as aid workers sent in to help intermittently.

"It was a neat experience," Daysa said. "Most of them were really feeling the frustrations that can come from this scenario."

The group participated in a debriefing after the event where the youth were asked to think through the challenges that refugees face and ways the church and the youth group could get involved and help. The youth offered suggestions like helping refugees find housing, helping them fill out job applications, and other ideas Daysa thinks they were able to come up with after experiencing some of the roadblocks firsthand. But another important outcome was having the youth participate in an ecumenical event with area youth from other churches.

"They realized that even though we might worship a little differently and do things a little differently we can all be really passionate about social justice issues and work together," she said.

The Congregational Church in Exeter UCC has recently incorporated more social justice issues into its youth ministry after a group of high-school-age members visited the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministry offices during a trip to Washington D.C. last year. Earlier this year, the group watched the film "Made in L.A.," which highlights the topic of immigration and immigrants who work in the L.A. garment industry for minimal wages and in subpar conditions.

"They were really inspired by that, so that's why we took more of a social justice perspective this year," Daysa said.

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