by Samantha McKean, Assistant for Youth and Young Adult Ministries
Each year, the Rev. Joshua Varner, Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Georgia, organizes an event called “Hometown Missions.” It’s a weekend-long “mission” trip that requires no airplane tickets or passports; instead, young people gear up to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly” (Micah 6:8) right here at home. So what happened when, on June 1-3, fifty teenagers were loose on that mission? A whole lot of sweat, a whole lot of service, and a whole lot of fun.
This year Christ Church took part in the mission. Tommy Taylor, Ryan Chandler, Michael Slatinsky, their friend, Sam Cooper, and I took off for a weekend of service. We met together with young people from all over the diocese at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Augusta, where the mission work began right away. On Friday night, we partnered with Rise Against Hunger for a meal packing event. We donned hairnets and gloves and lined up assembly-line style to pour rice, legumes, and dehydrated vegetables into sealed bags, while music pumped through the speakers. Before two hours had passed, we packed over 10,000 meals to be shipped internationally. When each person was asked afterward to describe the experience in one word, the word “fun" came up most frequently.
The next day, we were divided into teams and scattered throughout Augusta to take on various service projects. Closets were cleared, gardens were weeded, lawns were mowed, dirt was moved, food was served, and bugs were swatted. The day ended with a pool party and pizza, as everyone cooled off and relaxed with new friends that they had met throughout the day.
On Sunday, we worshipped together at Good Shepherd. We ended the event by processing the weekend together and talking about how this kind of mission and fellowship might continue as we went back to our own hometowns. Several teens expressed how empowering it was to realize that they had something they could contribute to their communities. The idea behind this project, we realized, is that “mission” work is not just something that’s done abroad, but is something that all Christians--not just adults, but kids, too!--are able to do in their own backyards.