“This church practices union; has no creed; seeks to make religion as intelligent as science, as appealing as art, as vital as the day’s work, as intimate as home, as inspiring as love,”
said Rev. Dr. E. S. Ames, the former Pastor of University Church in Chicago.
I’ve heard that maxim or some variation of it since my first few weeks in the Disciples of Christ tradition. I find it a beautiful telling sentiment that might best describe our general and local church. If I’m honest, I must admit I’m jealous that I did not write such poetic words about the function of organized religion, but alas, Dr. Ames was a peer of my predecessor, par excellence Dr. Charles Medbury. My peers and I stand on their shoulders or in their shadow, depending on the day.
Which makes me wonder: did Dr. Ames or Dr. Medbury ever have the privilege, the honor of participating in a High School Mission Trip? Did they experience the joy of witnessing youth engage in deep, meaningful conversations about food insecurity with staff from a major food bank long after the other 50 volunteers headed for the doors? Did they see youth sincerely connect with caseworkers at a Catholic soup kitchen? Did they co-labor with youth who tirelessly deep cleaned space designated to the dignity of the least of our brothers and sisters?
Emma, Tabby, Escher, Kelly, Ashley, and Dylan exemplified making religion “as vital as the day’s work, as intimate has home, as inspiriting as love” as they held sacred conversation, joyously joked, and faithfully served throughout Chicago. Along with Heather Minard and Jenny Robinson, I we all took in the sights and sounds of the truly unique and beautiful city of Chicago.
I’m proud to consider each of these High School Mission Trip sojourners my parishioner and friend. They have and will continue to teach me about love, acceptance, curiosity, and pop-culture. In our mutual learning by way of living out Scriptural instruction I am becoming a better minister and a more wholehearted person. Therefore, I am left to say thank you! Thank you to the church supporting my venture with the High School Mission Trip, and especially thank you to the youth and co-leaders who’ve accepted me along their journey.