Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Faith Works 6-18-05Jeff Gill
Mission trips for youth groups are a popular way to build community among the participants and teach core values of the faith.Some groups travel far afield, to San Antonio, Texas, Mexico, or even overseas to places like the Ukraine or the Phillipines (all spots Licking County groups have gone in service and ministry in recent years).Jeanelle Gutheil, youth director for Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has taken the Christian Youth Fellowship from her church on long term mission the last few summers to Michigan, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania.This last year has seen Jeanelle deal with some complications in planning and scheduling, so like most creative youth group leaders, she came up with a Plan B. Instead of a mission trip for a week to somewhere a ways away, she's leading a "missional experience" for high school youth every Wednesday through the first week of August.Each Wednesday morning, young people will come to the church building on Mount Vernon Road and Rugg Avenue, and spend the day in service around the community, helping with tasks at the Salvation Army shelter, and other opportunities for service right in their north Newark neighborhood."This doesn't replace the idea of traveling for a mission trip," says Gutheil. "But you can't always make the travel to see other places and ways of doing things. You can always find a place where God needs you, though, like right here in town."The group will travel: for fun and fellowship, they look forward to an overnight trip to Kennywood, a historic amusement park south of Pittsuburgh where their CYF has been at the end of an earlier mission trip. Not as large as Cedar Point or as well known as King's Island, Kennywood has history along with the roller coasters, and a location near the heart of a large city where challenge and success are both near at hand.Mission trips, at their best, reveal the differences and the similarities of the human condition as close neighbors, and teach how one's faith can bring about reconciliation and empowerment. A foreign land where a different language and a sense of being in the minority can be a powerful setting for learning what "missional work" in church life really is.But crossing a state line, or even just getting out of your famililar neighborhood, can be a step in the right direction.What is your faith community doing this summer to turn a piece of leisure time into mission experience?
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio. Tell him about your mission trip at

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