“Why not go in January 2009 for the inaugural as well?” asked an advisor.
Good question, historic answer. By the end of January 2009, the young missioners had unforgettable experiences both at an historic occasion and at eye-opening opportunities to serve local homeless people. Unforgettable!
Good planning in advance laid the groundwork. Long before the field of presidential candidates had been narrowed down, assuring with either choice an “historic” inauguration, the youth from Central Church had reservations to stay at the Washington Seminar Center, a mere four blocks from the Capitol steps.
Not long after the decision had been made, Katie Ricks, youth pastor for “The Rec” (Church of Reconciliation, in Chapel Hill, N. C.) contacted a friend, Central’s youth pastor, Molly Kent, about mission trip ideas. “I suggested we take a mission trip to Atlanta,” shared Ricks, “but the youth want to go to Washington, D.C.” Kent invited Ricks and the youth from The Rec to join the youth from Central on their inauguration mission trip.
Planning the mission component of the trip turned out to be challenging due to the thousands of people who also were converging on the nation’s capital for the inauguration of Barack Obama and the National Day of Service commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.
The group wound up serving at the 22nd Annual We Feed Our People event at the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library (wefeedourpeople.org). “There were more volunteers than they could use, so we carried ‘My Dream: A Hunger Free America’ posters and provided a ministry of presence,” explains Kent. Ricks added: “For our youth at The Rec it has sparked thoughts about how we will serve in our local community to address issues of hunger — especially in light of the fact that young adults started this tremendous program 22 years ago. They now feel like they can do the same thing!”
Like so many others, the missioners got up early on January 20 to join the crowd at the Washington Mall to witness the presidential inauguration. “Even if waking up at 3 isn’t my favorite, or walking three miles, being pushed into gates isn’t my favorite, I would do it again, anytime, any day. I can’t really put into words how grateful I was to see such an important piece of history, and now I have something incredible I can tell my kids one day!” said Dylan Farrow, 13, a member of The Rec. “My favorite experience on the trip was standing out on the mall and feeling so cold, while knowing that I was a part of something so great,” said Lauren Melville, 13, of Central Church.
The trip and its experiences drew together the young people and leaders.
Ricks had worked at both churches, and one of the founding members of The Rec was also a Central Church member. “God calls us into relationship and community with one another,” said Kent. “Being on the trip together made it better than had it only been Central.” “I had known that I wanted our Rec youth to grow together in community, and that I wanted the Rec and Central youth to grow together in community,” explained Ricks. “But, I had NO idea that there would be such an amazing community formed with all those other people surrounding us.”
Erin Dunigan is a freelance writer/photographer residing in Newport Beach, Calif.