Youth Join Effort to Advocate for Poor, Hungry People

Post a Comment » Written on April 25th, 2006     
Filed under: News
BERLIN, CT (April 25, 2006) – Students from nine Evangelical Covenant Church youth groups gathered here recently to worship together, raise awareness concerning several health and justice issues and participate in numerous community projects.

Elsewhere, Evangelical Covenant churches employed imaginative ways of participating in Bread for the World’s “Offering of Letters” campaign that calls attention to world hunger and poverty.

Youth at Covenant Village The churches in Berlin were responding to the CHIC challenge to make a difference in the world, says Becky Poor, youth pastor at Bethany Covenant, which hosted the event. Bethany students planned the worship service that kicked off the weekend and their youth band led music, while other students talked about tuberculosis and AIDS. Students from Haddam Neck Covenant Church performed a drama and presented a sign language piece. Students from the Children’s Home in Cromwell, Connecticut, read scripture.

Teenager Emily Poor shared that nearly two million people around the world die from tuberculosis each year, although the cost to treat a person is only $15. She added that AIDS has orphaned 12.3 million children and that 2.2 million are living with the disease.

Kari Sager spoke on the scripture passage from John 3:16-19, suggesting that while it is easy to get depressed and feel guilty over the fact that others are suffering while the students have so much, God doesn’t want them to wallow in their guilt – they were to bless others with what they have been blessed with. In response, students donated $1,200 that will be given to Covenant World Relief.

Bryan Phelan, a North Park Theological Seminary student who is interning with Bread for the World, addressed the teenagers who then wrote about 50 letters to encourage their Congressional representatives to vote for increased aid to the poor. Seventy teenagers and 10 adults then fanned out across the community to work on numerous projects that included working at a Vacation Bible School, yard work at St. Luke’s Home for elderly women in Middletown, Connecticut, serving meals at a friendship center, and various jobs at the Children’s Home. (See full list below).

Becky Poor noted that bringing the churches together enabled students to get to know one another better, but also provided smaller churches the opportunity to participate in larger projects.

Meanwhile, in Rockford, Illinois, the congregation of Broadway Covenant Church got a sense of what it means to be hungry by being subjected to the aroma of fresh-baked bread.

Pastor Eric Filkin had been preaching on the Parables and had chosen the story of the woman who pounded yeast into dough (Matthew 13:33). He placed six bread machines across the front of the church, each baking a loaf during the service. The entire sanctuary was filled with the smell of fresh baked bread.

Youth at St. Luke's Home “It helped illustrate that one of our callings as Christians is to feed the hungry,” Filkin says. “Yeast is something that is really small, but can truly have a huge impact in terms of affecting the lives of people around the world.”

Afterwards, Filkin says, congregation members commented to him, I’m really hungry now.” No one had any of the bread that day – it was served the next week during Communion.

Filkin used the opportunity to encourage members to participate in the Offering of Letters. “I was very impressed by the congregation’s response in participating in the offering of letters,” he says. “It was a way of living out their faith and in a way that most have never done before.”

At Northwest Covenant Church in Mount Prospect, Illinois, church members followed their service with a luncheon and watched a Bread for the World video before encouraging people to participate in the Offering of Letters. Phelan, who formerly was a youth pastor at the congregation, educated the congregation on the campaign.

The church made up a large mailbox for letters the congregation writes. The letters were scheduled to be mailed at the end of March.

Bread for the World was the March mission focus of the church, which dedicates each month to a different need, says pastor Paul Thompson.

Editor’s note: the top photo was taken during activities at Covenant Village of Cromwell. The lower photo came during events at St. Luke’s Home in Middletown. To see additional photos from the various activities, please visit : Offering of Letters.

Bethany Projects – listed by church:

  • Bethany Covenant: Helped at three different sites – visitation with the elderly at Covenant Village of Cromwell; Vacation Bible Camp at a local Lutheran church; cleanup and bottle and can drive at their church.
  • Cape Cod Covenant Church, Brewster, Massachusetts: Yard work and visitation with the elderly at St. Luke’s Home.
  • Community Covenant Church, Hopkinton, Massachusetts: Served meals at Friendship Service Center, a homeless shelter, and helped students at a shop that recycles bicycles – an outreach program to encourage students to stay in school and seek fun in healthy outlets like biking.
  • Hilltop Covenant Church, Cromwell, Connecticut: worked at Vacation Bible School and Bethany church.
  • Pilgrim Covenant Church, Granby, Connecticut: Did yard work, painting, transplanting in greenhouses and finished volleyball pit at the Children’s Home.
  • Hillside Covenant Church, Naugatuck, Connecticut: Worked with Pilgrim Covenant at Children’s Home.
  • Salem Covenant Church, Worcester, Massachusetts: worked at Children’s Home.
  • Evangelical Covenant Church, Riverside, Rhode Island: Painted the dining room at the Friendship Service Center.
  • Indian Orchard Covenant Church, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, prepared and served meals at St. Vincent DePaul’s soup kitchen.
  • Haddam Neck Covenant Church, East Hampton, Connecticut, helped with the Vacation Bible School.
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