When I was first assigned as part time ‘retired’ pastor to Smith River UMC, and before I met the congregation, I looked on their Facebook page. I saw youth, lots of young people, full of energy. This will be fun, I thought!
It turned out the youth were from Sierra Service Project, who used the Smith River United Methodist Church campus as their base of operations during summer. It is delightful having the staff around all summer so we can really get to know them. Then, each week, a new team comes. It is exciting to discover who they are.
The youth and adults are all interesting and adventurous people…why else would they come to this remote region of California? Everyone is invited to community dinner on Tuesdays with the volunteers, and that is when we get to hear their remarkable stories.
“I believe the love does linger…the energy clings to the walls even when the church becomes silent and much older in the fall.”
The first summer I was here, SSP volunteers helped rebuild a gate in the parsonage yard and I got to know several teams. Last summer my neighbor got a ramp in her backyard so she could get out there in her wheelchair. She has been spending more time outside this fall, yay!
All year, people in and around Smith River who have worked with Sierra Service Project talk about the gift they received from SSP. The staff is truly dedicated – ready to greet the teams, house and feed them, and make sure they have what they need to get the jobs done. I am amazed at their stamina.
I believe the Smith River UMC congregation remains vital all year round because of the love and excitement that fills the church all summer. Jesus calls us to love one another, and build a sturdy foundation. I believe the love does linger…the energy clings to the walls even when the church becomes silent and much older in the fall. SSP is so welcome here every year. Hugs all around…
Editor’s note: This article is featured in SSP’s 2018 Annual Newsletter; read all the stories written by youth volunteers, summer staff, and community members. Request a hard copy newsletter to be mailed to you.