Our August Community Dinner was a little different from our previous ones because our chefs included Mediator youth as well as youth from our after-school program. At first Bryn and DJ (from Mediator) were working alone on the fruit trifle for dessert. But, when they started on the layer of whipped filling, David (from our after-school program) and his cousin Esther joined them. I had placed the shopping order from memory and gotten Cool Whip, instead of heavy cream, and it was hard going trying to whip it up with cream cheese. But, together, the kids pitched in, and soon they were enthusiastically cutting and layering strawberries, bananas, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries with the whipped topping, and the angel food cake, ending with a beautiful arrangement of fruit on the top. It was wonderful!
Part of what gave me joy in watching this process was thinking that it was an example of how we have grown as a parish in the past year. We have, at times, struggled with how to integrate our ministries within our parish with our ministry to the community around us; including our youth ministry. Here were “our” kids and our neighbors’ kids, not only working together, but having fun and being creative.
Our Community Dinners have evolved as well. We now have people who look forward to coming, and we are making the dinners more regular. August’s dinner was the first of monthly dinners, on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, which will be followed by a talk by a speaker addressing our Mission focus for the month. Jill Periera, from the United Way, gave a very good, interactive talk about the challenges in our local schools, and the Community Schools approach to address them. Twila Smith, our Missioner, is inviting other engaging speakers for the Community Dinners.
Ministry is often about being creative when you have different ingredients than you thought you needed. As our parish and the community around us change, we are finding new ways to minister and be God’s people. Our growing “networked” relationship with Grace Episcopal Church is an example of that creativity; one which is still in the beginning stages and promises to strengthen our common mission and ministry in Allentown and beyond.
As we begin the fall, let us work together in ministry, creatively with partners inside and outside the parish, to make something wonderful for God.