by Greg Jarrell
Students exploring a spiritual vocation — and looking to discover ways to say “yes” to God’s call — say that a summer program just beginning in five locations around the country will provide the framework they need to begin that journey.
The Summer Communities of Service program, a partnership between the Alliance of Baptists and the United Church of Christ, offers young adults an opportunity for service and community.
“I was very excited to learn about the program,” said Tate Arges, whose youth minister at Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., called him in the early spring to let him know about the opportunity. “Serving others was a significant part of my formation at Watts Street, and Summer Communities was an opportunity to extend that service as a way of life.”
Arges and 14 other students began their service period with an orientation in Charlotte, N.C., hosted by Park Road Baptist Church. Over three days, they considered their sense of call, their future vocations and how they can respond to God in service and in mutuality to those they will encounter this summer. After their orientation, they left for service sites hosted by Ellis Avenue Church in Chicago; Metro Baptist/Rauschenbush Metro Ministries in New York City; Washington United Church of Christ in Cincinnati; Woodside Church in Flint, Mich.; and QC Family Tree in Charlotte.
Students will live in intentional communities during their service terms, committing to a common rule of life and sharing the resources they have for the benefit of one another.
“Washington United Church of Christ owns an apartment building across the street from the church,” said Arges. “My team” — which includes two others — “is sharing a residence there, with separate bedrooms and a common room for meals and meetings together.”
While serving, the group in Cincinnati will help run a children’s camp for kids in the Camp Washington neighborhood where the church is located. They will teach reading, tutor in math, introduce spiritual disciplines such as prayer and reading Scripture and go on multiple excursions to interesting and educational sites around their city.
Arges is at the beginning of his service period now, and he is excited about what the summer holds.
“I am especially interested in encountering and hearing the stories of people from different walks of life.” Together they will listen and work together to serve their neighborhood.