Next let’s talk about how different youth ministries are getting involved in outreach programs and demonstrating their Christian values. After all, Christianity is about DOING; helping and loving others to help make the world a better place.
There are a lot of great things going on in the churches in St. John’s and Mount Pearl. The CLB is very strong and very involved in reaching out to the local community. At St. Augustine’s the CLB has brought the Good News to many families that would not otherwise be involved in the Church at all. This parish is situated in what is probably the poorest area of the province and many families cannot afford to take part in many of the activities that go on in the Church and the community at large. St Augustine’s enables children from these families to be able to take part in the CLB, paying for uniforms and any activities that are undertaken. Through the CLB some of the kids who have lived in the city their whole lives have seen the ocean for the first time. This, in a province surrounded by water! They have also taken a road trip in a bus for the first time outside the city. This has been a very powerful ministry for kids and adults alike.
St. Augustine’s is also involved in the MUN Ministry, that is, the ministry to the students attending Memorial University here in St. John’s. It is a challenging but rewarding ministry, reaching out to university students during a time of transition in their lives, bringing them the Good News and support they often need to get through the stresses of this period in their lives. This group tend to be harder to reach and harder to engage, but the parish has been working hard to make it work, I will look at their initiatives in the next article.
Several of the parishes, including St. Augustine’s and the Church of the Ascension, are going to be involved in “Dancing with the Priests.” Similar to tv’s “Dancing with the Stars” 12 local priests will pair up with 12 dance coaches and train for 9 months. Then in May they will have a full day of dancing at Mile One Stadium having a dance-off with celebrity judges and everything! The goal is to raise $100,000 for “Vibrant Communities” a non profit organization that works to provide increased opportunities for individuals to finish high school and gain employment.
Other local initiatives, undertaken at St. Thomas’s Church are visits to a local guest home and every Christmas the youth groups go caroling. It is a great way to make the kids feel a part of the greater community, to reach out to people they might not otherwise encounter and to see different sides of their community.
St. Michael and All Angels has spent a great deal of time focusing inward lately. Fr. Sam Rose was brought on at St. Michael’s to attract young families and has been working very hard to that effect and is definitely seeing some reward for the work. The approach to youth and young families is a very different one, and we will look at it in greater detail in the next article. However, in terms of community outreach they have recently started reaching out to a program called “Choices for Youth” a group that works with troubled teens, kids dealing with drugs, violence, alcohol, homelessness, in other words, not the kind of kids the parish was used to seeing in Church. It was an eye opening experience for parishioners involved in this initiative, and bridges were built during this early encounter, and hopefully a relationship will evolve, because these teens need the support of the church, need to know someone cares about them, and this type of work is what the Church should be all about. After all, Jesus sought out the sinners and outcasts, and commissioned us to do the same.
Local churches are also reaching out to charities and programs around the world. Primates World Relief and Development Fund, Side by Side, Off the Grid, are all popular initiatives being undertaken by the youth in my area. Some youth groups are even sponsoring a foster child through programs like World Vision.
Youth really do want to be involved, to help others and to feel like they’re making a difference. We all understand the frustration of “all talk, no action” and these kids are taking action, taking a stand and making a difference. They really do represent what our faith is all about, theirs is faith in ACTION!
What’s going on at your church that demonstrates Faith in Action?
The next piece will center on the different programs the churches are using that are different from “traditional” church initiatives…be sure to check it out next week!!