We are a church that has been raised to do God’s work with our own hands, to love others like Jesus and to work toward peace and justice in the world. This mission is carried out by youth groups in many ELCA congregations.
This year 35,000 of the ELCA youth will be in New Orleans for the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering, “citizens with the saints.” Through the Gathering, they will be serving the people and city of New Orleans. They will be participating in service projects, meeting new people and spreading the teachings of Christ throughout their time in New Orleans.
Besides the ELCA Youth Gathering, there are many other opportunities for service this summer for your congregation’s youth group. Some youth groups are traveling to Joplin, Mo., to help heal a city torn apart by storms in May 2011. Others will participate with Habitat for Humanity or other charities in their local communities, and still others may be a part of a YouthWorks trip in various cities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
Here are some ways to serve throughout the year:
- Locally: There are always volunteer opportunities in your community. Visit your county’s website to see if there is a list of charities in the area in need of volunteers. Also, contact other congregations in your area to see if they would like be a partner in helping others in the community.
- Nationally: Volunteering nationally includes service trips provided through the ELCA and other groups, such as YouthWorks. These programs are usually offered in the summer but there are opportunities in the spring, such as alternative spring breaks, in which participants provide a week of service instead of partying with hundreds of thousands of other college students.
- Internationally: Service globally is harder to plan in a short amount of time. If your congregation is looking for immediate volunteer opportunities, serving locally would be the best place to start. Global service can be done through global mission trips, the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program and by donating to global programs, such as ELCA World Hunger and the ELCA Malaria Campaign, All of these activities help raise awareness of issues around the world and allow congregations to work toward peace and justice in neighboring global communities.
Take time to research service opportunities available to you and move toward peace in the world by doing God’s work with your own hands.
You might also want to read:
Volunteering in China as the hands and feet of Jesus
Raising funds for mission
Lighting the home fires