Presiding Bishop Michael Curry describes mission as: “to go into the world and help to be agents and instruments of God’s reconciliation. To go into the world, let the world know that there is a God who loves us, a God who will not let us go, and that that love can set us all free.”
Short-term mission trips offer and teach our young people a way to grow in their relationship with God and prepare them to serve Christ in all they do.
By participating in mission trips, young people learn how to overcome obstacles and navigate the unfamiliar. They learn what it means to live in the moment, how to look at their efforts as holy work, and how to build connections with people they don’t know. By offering their time and energy, they get to reflect on their own lives and are pushed to consider inequality and injustice in our country.
Mission trips call us to serve as “ambassadors of Christ” (II Cor. 5:20) as we practice reconciliation and learn from others as we engage with Christ in the stranger’s guise. Every year, the Diocese of Ohio works with parishes to partially sponsor joint parish mission trips so that the young people build bonds with those from other congregations as they pray and work together. These grants are funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.
This summer, there were eight churches that received youth summer mission trip grants from the Diocese. Five parishes, St. Matthew's, Brecksville; St. Timothy's, Macedonia; St. John's, Cuyahoga Falls; St. Paul's, Medina; and Trinity Cathedral, all sent youth participants to a mission site in Franklin, PA. The work of this mission trip was to participate in repair efforts to provide low-income families with safe, dry housing. They also assisted with an ongoing renovation project at a local homeless shelter.
St. Peter's, Lakewood sent 21 kids and adult leaders to Jackson County, WV where they joined forces with youth groups from other churches. Their mission was to help spread the word of God by assisting people with repairs for their homes, including helping to build porches and wheelchair ramps. This mission trip helps homeowners and their families and empowers young people to serve others.
St. Timothy’s, Perrysburg; St. Matthew's, Toledo; and Christ Church, Huron sent young people to Barnes Mountain, KY where they winterized a home, removed and replaced existing roofing of another, performed several significant maintenance and repair jobs around St. Timothy’s Episcopal Mission Center, and continued to build and strengthen relationships that have been developed with residents of the mountain over the past decade.
St. Thomas, Berea sent 30 adult leaders and young people to Lotts Creek, KY to help the Lotts Creek Community School as well as two local families. The work of the trip was to help clean and repair school grounds and classrooms. The group also repaired a family’s porch and painted another family’s living room.
The Diocese sent out a survey to the organizers of the trips who shared it with the participants. We asked them to describe a “God moment” and to articulate the lesson/s they learned from the local community that they could integrate into their own lives. Responses were varied, but a common theme was building and strengthening bonds with fellow participants and developing connections with those they were serving. What really inspired the young people were the lessons and experiences that they learned from members of the local communities. You can find some of the responses on the adjoining page.
In times when hope can be in short supply, we give thanks for these young people who have stepped into new situations with trust and enthusiasm.