“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
Trying to wrap my mind around the idea of Public Church can be a daunting task. In previous blog entries, we have talked about the struggle of wanting a nice and tidy 5 step program while knowing that creating a program is not what the Youth and Public Church Initiative is about. Numerous times in our seminars I have used our Faith in Action Projects at Family of Christ as one example of what this initiative is getting at. I’d like to share a bit about these projects to inspire some ideas of what Public Church could possibly look like in whatever context you find yourself in.
At Family of Christ we ask each of our 9th grade students to complete a Faith in Action Project before they are confirmed. Faith in Action Projects may take many different forms, but the idea behind them all is that our youth think about the ways God has gifted them and the passions they have and put that into some kind of action to meet a need they see. To help them prepare, 9th grade students all take the Strengths Finder assessment and meet with a pastor or staff member to discuss their project. In the spring, at the time of their confirmation, students make a display with pictures and text sharing about their project. The Narthex is filled with displays of all the different ways the youth have put their faith in action.
One project that makes a great illustration is Hugs from Hunter. During her 9th grade year, Marli’s younger cousin was killed in an ATV accident. While gathered at the hospital in Hunter’s final hours, Marli noticed that his younger siblings were very frightened in the environment and had nothing to offer them comfort. It was during this difficult time that Hugs from Hunter was created. For her Faith in Action project, Marli and her friend, Molly, decided to raise money to purchase teddy bears and blankets that could be distributed to children who are at the hospital in frightening situations. The bears and blankets would be a source of comfort during a difficult time. Hugs from Hunter did not end when Marli and Molly were confirmed. They have continued to distribute bears and blankets and are even in the process of making Hugs from Hunter an official non-profit organization. If you’d like to know more visit www.hugsfromhunter.org
Some other projects that have been done include knitting hats for the homeless, leading a summer musical camp for elementary aged kids, hosting a fundraising dinner for a young boy fighting cancer, teaching adaptive dance for handicapped children, and much more. Each year it is amazing to see the needs the students find in their community and the creative ways they find to make a difference.