This summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel with some of our church’s young people.
Some of the middle school youth and I made our way to Charleston, WV, for a week to serve God, the people, and the city. We had a wonderful week growing together in our faith as we worked on projects around Charleston. We spent a day in an urban garden that provides fresh produce to a local food pantry, we worked at Heart + Hands, a ministry of the Methodist church in the area, accepting and sorting donations to their thrift shop, which funds the social services work that the organization provides, and we spent a day working behind the scenes for some local children’s programs, organizing a toy drive and cleaning a preschool classroom. However, the highlight of the week was the afternoon we spent at the Charleston Humane Society.
Our group was small but mighty and all three of the youth participants had big hearts for ALL of God’s creation. At the humane society, we prepared treats for the dogs. We made a batch of “pupsicles” that were then frozen to give to the dogs during the heat of a summer afternoon. We filled Kong toys with peanut butter, and, best of all, we got to spend time with Bacon and Egg, two wonderful dogs who were so happy to have some playmates for the afternoon.
It was such a joy to watch the youth interact with the people (and animals) of Charleston. Each night at worship, the group was eager to share prayer requests that they had learned of throughout the day as well as moments where they had seen God at work around them. There was always something to pray for and to celebrate as we worshiped.
A couple of weeks later, I was able to travel to Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, NC, with some of our high school and college youth. It was week 5 of Montreat’s summer Youth Conference, Called to Connect, and it was the biggest week they hosted this summer (though still small by Montreat standards, I’m told). Along with about 800 other young people, we worshiped, studied, hiked, and played in the North Carolina summer. We discussed how we’re all connected to God and to one another, we explored what happens when we get disconnected and how we can reconnect with God. Maybe most importantly, we learned about what it means to be biconnected.
Biconnected is a math term referring to graphs that I still don’t fully understand but, when we take it out of its original context and apply it to faith, it’s a reminder that we are all connected because of our belief in Christ. We are connected to people that we don’t even know, people that we haven’t met and maybe won’t ever meet, because we share a common faith in God. That was such an amazing thing to hear and to be reminded of after a year where most of our connections and communications were digital.
I am planning for a more normal program year for 2021-22 and I’m praying that I’ll be able to follow through on those plans but I know that, no matter what happens, our faith keeps us connected to one another and to God.