Summer Mission Work Meets Youth @ Synod

Summer Mission Work Meets Youth @ Synod

Rev. Jennie Valentine had a brilliant idea for a Covid work-around for her youth ministry program in Sandwich, MA.  When the pandemic restricted plans for summer travel for mission work, this SNEUCC pastor shifted gears and began to organize a local service-learning option that also includes a connection to the UCC General Synod.

This year, the United Church of Christ Synod gathering is entirely online and the Youth @ Synod program will be virtual as well.  Jennie had chaperoned a trip to for Youth @ Synod program in Cleveland in 2015 with other youth groups from RI, MA, and CT (an early collaboration of the Southern New England conferences!). She wanted to share that experience with youth in her area, so she decided to create a program for teens in the Barnstable Association on Cape Cod.

"A Synod experience invites young people to live their faith through our denomination– with spiritual activities, decision- and policy-making education, and service and social activities.  Participants can find other like-minded people with whom they can strengthen their spiritual commitments," said Rev. Valentine

The Barnstable program will combine recreational and service-learning activities around the Synod themes: rooted in God's Love, Identity, Liberation and Creation.  The First Church of Sandwich, UCC in Sandwich, MA will serve as the home base for the program.  Youth will gather at the church each day during the week of July 11-18, careful to follow covid guidelines.  They will set up Zoom on a big screen and log in to the Youth @ Synod programming together. 

In addition to the Synod programming, the group will connect to local non-profits.  Racial justice is a concern in the community, so one of the stops will be the NAACP Museum in Hyannis.  Other activities include a planting project, mental health outreach, and trails cleanup.  Plans also include biking on the Cape Cod Canal and a bonfire for the Kahoot Trivia night.  The week will wrap up with an overnight and then youth-led worship on the final Sunday.

Jennie is Minister for Faith Formation and Service, so this program is a perfect blending of her skills and passions.  She has taken youth to National and regional youth events, served as a Dean at both Horton Center and Silver Lake outdoor ministry programs.

Rev. Tina Walker-Morin, pastor of First Church Sandwich commented, "We are thrilled to have Rev. Jennie lead this program! It will help youth put their faith into action beyond the walls of the church making Christ’s love and justice real. This model lives into our conference’s new vision for the wider church and we hope others will use and adapt what is created here."

For more information about the Barnstable Association program and Youth @ Synod, join the SNEUCC Cultivating Connections webinar on Thursday, May 20 at 3 PM.  Contact Debby Kirk, Faith Formation Team Leader for the Southern New England Conference for scholarship applications for youth and young adults who want to attend the 2021 Synod program.


debby kirk.jpg
Debby D. Kirk

Debby Kirk serves as leader of the staff team that provides resources for the work of nurturing disciples of all ages in the local church. Her area of focus is youth ministry. Contact her for:  Faith Formation Communities of Practice Confirmation ...

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