Serving at a soup kitchen, cleaning up a camp, and working at a food warehouse were among the “vacation week” activities for a group from Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, MA who traveled to Philadelphia for a recent 5-day mission trip. Pastor Joseph Graumann and youth leader Sarah Maston accompanied eight teens: Caitlyn, Samantha and Zachary Gogan, Matt Haley, Aline and Emma Kaledjian, and Abby and Sam Maston. They were part of a volunteer group of 22 teens and six adults from Central Massachusetts involved in LIPY (Lutheran Inter-Parish Youth).
Four from Saint Stephen chose to volunteer at a senior living facility, where they played balloon volleyball and board games with the seniors, and joined them in arts and crafts. “We also ate lunch with our senior friends every day,” Sarah Maston noted. “The kids really enjoyed getting to know the seniors and their personalities.” For those who remained at Camp Innabah, in Spring City, PA, where they stayed overnight, their days were taken up with grounds clean-up and painting to help prepare the facility for summer campers.
The pastor chaperoned at a soup kitchen at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. “We arrived ready to help, “ he said, “but instead through their gracious hospitality and education, they helped us to see the realities of life in North Philadelphia. This is a church that changed alongside its neighborhood to be a center of justice and solidarity, and many churches would do well to follow their example.”
For Sam Maston, the working at Share Nourishing Community, a food bank, was “ a wonderful experience and I really enjoyed helping others.” Volunteers packaged food into boxes, and sent them to both organizations and individuals. “We got to interact with some buyers as we helped them load the food into their vehicles.”
After completing their volunteer service, the entire group worshiped at Grace Lutheran Church in Royersford, PA. “It was very beautiful!” Sarah Maston said.
For more information about the church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) . The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Stow, and Bolton.