Creating ‘Grounded’

Creating ‘Grounded’

By Lea Booth, Associate Pastor, La Jolla United Methodist Church

“What do youth and young people need to hear this year?” This question begins the work of the Spiritual Program planning team each year. When we regrouped in the spring, after SSP decided to go virtual for summer 2020, my honest answer was “I have no idea.” How could we offer hope when the future was – and is – foggy and uncertain?

Lea (right) with Chiloquin 2019 Site Director, Léa Le Rouzo.

‘Grounded’ emerging as the theme was an accident. Or the Holy Spirit. Or kismet. The team had been fleshing out a plant-based (pun intended) theme prior to the onset of COVID. We felt tones of rootedness and sustainability would still be vital amidst a pandemic. Pulling in the feelings of stuck-ness and grief we were sure would crop up (see what I did there?) was a more difficult task.

We felt tones of rootedness and sustainability would still be vital amidst a pandemic.

Veronica used the word ‘grounded’ to describe being ‘rooted,’ and the double meaning grabbed me. We’re all grounded! We’re feeling stuck. How can we move from that feeling to growth, even when growth doesn’t seem possible? The ‘Grounded’ theme itself grew from there, and it was the joy of my summer to see how the SLCs on each team adapted the concept to their own contexts and understandings.

SSP summer 2020 ‘Grounded’ theme design.

“We’re all grounded! We’re feeling stuck. How can we move from that feeling to growth, even when growth doesn’t seem possible?”

Summer 2020 was both so different from – and so much the same as – my prior experience with SSP. I saw relationships form and grow. I saw people engage with each other and learn about communities in need. I saw new skills develop, even if not in the form of using power tools. In a world that is deeply unfamiliar to all of us, SSP 2020 was a needed, grounding experience for me, and I hope for everyone who participated.


Editor’s Note: We are excited to continually support local ministry in whatever way we can! If you are interested in lending your skills to support these new efforts, which include curriculum development, reach out to Veronica Russell, Director of Volunteers and Outreach.

DART Job Openings

We are proud to share career opportunities from fellow organizations in the faith and community service community. Email our central office staff if you have a job posting you’d like us to share.

Careers in Community Organizing for Social Justice

The Direct Action and Research Training Center, Inc. (DART) is a national network of 23 faith-based community organizations that unite congregations across racial, religious, and socioeconomic lines to pursue justice. DART organizations seek long-term, sustainable improvements at a systemic level.

DART organizations engage in direct action assemblies in which thousands of people from a cross-section of faith traditions publicly hold decision-makers accountable on solutions to serious local community problems. DART organizations’ recent victories include: multi-million dollar investments in affordable housing, increased access to primary health and dental care, statewide legislation to rein in the payday loan industry, implementation of restorative justice practices in public schools, decreasing the high number of juvenile arrests for non-serious offenses, and expanding opportunities for people released from jail/prison.

They are currently accepting applications for Associate Community Organizer positions in the cities listed below.  The deadline to apply is December 13, 2020. DART will hold an online info session on Wednesday, December 9 at 7 pm eastern / 4 pm pacific to discuss careers in community organizing.

Sign up at www.thedartcenter.org/info

DART trains professional organizers and community organizations to work for social, economic and racial justice, including:

  • Holding police departments accountable
  • Shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline
  • Reining in predatory lenders
  • Expanding access to primary health and dental care
  • Prioritizing funding for affordable housing and job training
  • Fighting for immigrants’ rights

Positions start January 11, 2021 and August 9, 2021 in:

  • Kansas: Topeka and Johnson County
  • Kentucky: Louisville and Lexington
  • Ohio: Columbus
  • Florida: St. Petersburg, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Lakeland, Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach

Starting salary $40,000/year + benefits.

DART organizations are diverse coalitions including many low- and moderate-income, minority and immigrant communities. We strongly encourage people from these backgrounds, as well as fluent Spanish speakers and DACA recipients, to apply.

To apply or learn more about DART, visit www.thedartcenter.org and find us on instagram and facebook @theDARTcenter. Still have questions? Contact SSP staff alumni and current board member Moe Leneweaver at moe@thedartcenter.org or 602.510.4658.

YAC Spotlight: Madison Gallardo

YAC Spotlight: Madison Gallardo

Youth Advisory Council (YAC) member, First United Methodist Church of Lodi, CA

Tell us a bit about your SSP story.

Madison: Over the years I’ve been encouraged to attend SSP from the stories that were told by older youth from my church who had participated previously. I went the first summer I could in 2018, and have been participating ever since.

What are some of your favorite SSP memories?

Madison: My most memorable moments stem from the new people I meet, and getting to build stronger relationships with the people from my church. Especially at the worksite with my work team or any down time.

In 2019, Madison’s group from First United Methodist Church Lodi was part of an intimate 15-person week serving in the Tsaile-Wheatfields and Lukachukai communities.

How are you involved in your local community? How has this changed through the pandemic?

Madison: Once a month my church would make breakfast and lunch to take to the Salvation Army, but we have not been able to since March. Hopefully soon that can change, but we have been collecting non-perishable food for those who need it.

How has SSP impacted your life?

Madison: I walked away from my faith for the most part before my first SSP experience, and over the past couple of years participating has brought me back to it. Finding my faith again has helped mold me into the person I strive to be, and that has change me for the better.

Editor’s Note: Youth are invited to join Madison and the rest of the Youth Advisory Council at the monthly ZZP with SSP gatherings. Registration is free!

YAC Spotlight: Dani Berg

YAC Spotlight: Dani Berg

Youth Advisory Council (YAC) member, First Presbyterian Church of Bozeman, MT

Tell us a bit about your SSP story.

Dani: I’ve been involved with SSP the last three summers with my church group, serving once in Spokane, once in San Diego, and this summer at home in Bozeman, where we did local service projects in our community. My youth leader had attended SSP many years ago, and decided restarting that tradition would be a good way for us all to connect. Before my first experience, I had no idea SSP would become such an influential piece of my life.

What are some of your favorite SSP memories?

Dani: A really distinct memory that stands out is playing the card game Rat Slap with a bunch of friends in Spokane, but I had found a fly swatter and was using it to win the game. Another is visiting Friendship Park in San Diego with participants from our week right on the other side of the wall in Mexico. I treasure the personal change SSP has given to me, in my own spirituality and character.

Dani installs a fascia board on the Spokane Indian Reservation in 2018.

How are you involved in your local community? How has this changed through the pandemic?

Dani: At home in Bozeman, I’m involved with choir in school. Singing is one of my hobbies, and I’m constantly trying to improve. Sharing that with others in my community at choir in school, or at church, or with my family is how I can express myself and connect with others. Singing in the pandemic has definitely changed. At school, we have special masks that cover a larger amount of your face than typical masks, and online church has taken out many opportunities to sing.

How has SSP impacted your life?

Dani: SSP has made me realize that although I’m striving to study science, service will always be a part of me. The profound feeling of community SSP provides while giving back is one I want to share and spread with others.

Editor’s Note: Youth are invited to join Dani and the rest of the Youth Advisory Council at the monthly ZZP with SSP gatherings. Registration is free!


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