Teens bring servant hearts from Southwest desert to Puget Sound
Who says you have to live in the Northwest to volunteer for Lutheran Community Services Northwest? An energetic group of youth and their adult chaperones from Arizona recently proved that faithful service knows no bounds, and you don’t need a passport to enter the mission field.
For the better part of a week in late July, they slept on the floor in Sunday School rooms at Faith Lutheran Church in Northeast Seattle. They showered in the pastor’s parsonage house next door. They studied how biblical principles apply to acts of community service.
And these 13- to 16-year-olds from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in the Phoenix metro area helped invigorate our programs for seniors, immigrants and other vulnerable clients around the Greater Puget Sound District.
It wouldn’t have happened if not for the long relationship between Faith Lutheran and LCS Northwest. With the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, opportunities for our agency to reconnect with church partners will only grow.
It also wouldn’t have happened if not for a strong friendship between two church professionals living 1,400 miles apart. The Rev. Shannyn Fuerst is pastor at Faith Lutheran. Amy Jacober is youth leader at St. Peter’s Episcopal. Together they came up with a plan for Jacober’s youth to come north to love and serve in unfamiliar territory.
Or as Fuerst said: “To push the kids out of their comfort zones – but not too far.”
They spent one day at our Everett Community Resource Center packing food bags and hygiene/ safety kits. The next three days found them assembling fall gift bags for Santa for Seniors in Tacoma, and filling food boxes and back-to-school backpacks in SeaTac.
Faith Lutheran hosts also made sure they enjoyed a taste of PNW summer, including hiking, kayaking, sailing and an outing to Salt and Straw Ice Cream.
One nudge outside their comfort zones involved taking a walking tour of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where they heard about the advocacy work being done for people who identify as LGBTQIA. Pastor Shannyn said they learned how to relate it back to their home community and “connect the dots” to scripture.
LCS Northwest extends a hearty “thank you” to both churches for making this trip happen. And to the teens from the Southwest desert who delivered a fresh infusion of health, justice and hope.