By Duane Buys
Director of Christian Education at University Park United Methodist Church
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sierra Service Project (SSP) for several years now. It is a Christian youth service ministry that has been our resource for mission trips for five years now. I’m the Director of Christian Education at University Park United Methodist Church in Denver and I’ve served on the SSP Board of Directors for two years. It’s been my pleasure to organize and participate in a number of summer mission trips of our youth. Sierra Service Project totally coordinates our projects from the moment we arrive at the site, and I can tell you that it’s the best organization we’ve ever had the good fortune to be a part of. Trust me, I know what it’s like to have to plan and coordinate a mission trip on your own.
Sierra Service Project totally coordinates our projects from the moment we arrive at the site, and I can tell you that it’s the best organization we’ve ever had the good fortune to be a part of.
The mission of SSP is to “build faith and strengthen communities through service to others”. They provide challenging, safe and faith enriched Christian serving/learning experiences for youth. It is a fantastically well-organized entity for local church leaders to lean on. SSP runs week-long summer service programs that take place at various locations in the western United States, the newest of which is just outside of Spokane, WA, making it very accessible for a lot of groups in the Rocky Mountain Conference!
SSP must charge students a fee to cover the expense associated with their involvement, but has a significant scholarship fund to help low income youth who would like to participate. SSP has made the commitment to ensure that no one is excluded due to financial issues.
SSP’s theology is broad and progressive, and is very compatible with the values of our church. Its approach is invitational, participatory, and affirming.
The youth at my church are passionate about being a part of SSP every summer. It’s the most talked about event throughout the year. They see it as fun, social, educational and an incredibly impactful experience! In fact, this past summer we chose to attend a large youth convention rather than a mission trip. Upon reflection, the youth said they would rather have done a mission trip. We love the time together as we travel to and from the site and the friendships that develop while working to serve others as a common goal.
The youth at my church are passionate about being a part of SSP every summer.
It’s my hope that you will take a serious look at Sierra Service Project’s programs and see how it could impact your youth. I am also more than happy to make a presentation to your group or your leaders to talk more about the possibilities.
Editor’s Note: See how to get involved in one of SSP’s summer or year-round programs. Contact Pascal Domicone, SSP’s Communications Coordinator, if you are in the Denver area and would like to speak with Duane about his experience.