For the second year the Rev. Kathryn King, Rector of St. Alban’s, Oakland, organized a week-long mission trip for the youth of the parish based at our diocesan camp, Cross Roads. This year St. Alban’s extended the program to St. John’s, Ramsey and Trinity, Allendale. The three parishes have just hired a Youth Missioner to run tri-parish youth ministry for their junior and senior high youth. Megan Kendall was hired on July 1 and was able to attend the mission trip, which took place later that month. Eight youth from St. Alban’s and four from St. John’s participated, with three adults in addition to King chaperoning. Trinity, Allendale plans to join for Mission Trip 2014.
Using Cross Roads as the mission trip base allows the majority of funds to be used to do ministry rather than pay for travel. It also provides a hands-on experience serving in ministries within the diocese and working alongside their members.
King says “Coordinating with Anthony Briggs at Cross Roads is great. Food and lodging is just the beginning. Anthony works with us to schedule pool time as well as any of the other sports and ropes course activities they youth want to try out. I have been organizing and leading youth mission trips for all of my ministry and I would highly recommend this model to everyone. Another great benefit is that we encourage our younger kids to attend camp the same week we are staying there for the mission trip. It means that the whole parish gets involved and the younger kids feel more comfortable going to sleep away camp knowing their older siblings and church friends are there too! And parents with multiple aged kids can then chaperone because all their kids are involved in one way or another!
The group spent one day working at Cross Roads to continue the herculean effort to clean the wood from the hundreds of trees brought down in Hurricane Sandy. For the past 10 months volunteers have been cutting downed trees into logs and the group loaded the logs in wheel barrows, moved them to central locations and stacked them into massive wood and brush piles. At the end of the day the kids chanted “We moved a forest today!”
On Tuesday the group headed to St. James’, Hackettstown where they learned about the Summer Backpack feeding program. They went to the grocery store to pick-up car loads of food, transported it back to the church, unloaded and sorted the items, and then prepared them for packing. Soon sky high towers of cereal, tuna fish, and mac & cheese filled the hallways ready to be packed for the 250 children and families who come for support.
On Wednesday the group sponsored, compiled and packaged 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now, an organization that provides emergency food both domestically and internationally. Through car washes, fish and chips dinners, sponsorships and a $500 donation from the Bishops’ Discretionary Fund, the youth raised $2,500 to sponsor the meals that consist of dry ingredients including rice, soy and vegetables. In the morning a large box truck arrived containing the bulk supplies and packaging equipment, and in the afternoon drove away loaded with packaged meals ready to feed the hungry. “It was really cool to see all the boxes filled and ready to be shipped around the world,” said Julia, one of the St. Alban’s youth. “Even though the hair nets were hideous the day was a lot of fun.”
The team spent the majority of Thursday at Haven of Hope, a ministry of St. Luke’s Church in Hope that provides respite vacation weeks to families with a child with a life limiting illness. The youth played games and did crafts with the families and then prepared, cooked and served a chicken barbeque and strawberry shortcakes for dessert. Later in the afternoon the group hosted the entire Cross Roads camp for lemonade Hawaiian shaved ice – a welcome treat on a very hot afternoon.
The evenings all week included community gatherings, Bible study, prayer, worship, singing and lots of hanging out and game playing. King said, “At first I wondered about the decision to stay in the air-conditioned Christ Center, but by the first night it was clear that it was the right choice. Because we came back to a cool and comfortable place at the end of the day of work the kids were re-energized and choose to be together rather than collapsing on their bunks or looking for a shady place to get some relief from the heat. I think that the Christ Center added to the community building that we all experienced. It was a fabulous week and everyone is already talking about next year.”
Two of the youth have compiled the video and photos of the week and turned them into a presentation that will be shown at each of the three churches in the fall as a way to share the experience of the mission trip, encourage others to participate next year, and to help spread the excitement about the new tri-parish youth ministry program that is being launched. Kendall, the new Youth Missioner, commented “I am just thrilled that it worked out for me to go on the trip as a way to launch into this new ministry. The kids were amazing and are totally ready to keep the momentum going. We are off to a great start!”
The Mission Trip youth team thanks St. Alban’s and St. John’s parishes and families, the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, The Lisbath Linley Foundation, Church f the Good Shepherd, Fort Lee, St. James’ Church, Hackettstown, St. Peter’s Church, Morristown, and Trinity Church, Ossining, NY for their support in making it possible for us to make a difference for Christ in the world.
If you would like to learn more about arranging this type of mission trip you can contact Kathryn King at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 201-337-4909.