For nearly 30 years, GPUMC has sent a group of high school youth and several adult chaperones to serve for one week at Henderson Settlement in Frakes, Ky., in the southeastern corner of that state.
Although we are veterans at doing this work, this experience never gets old and continues to provide one of the most profound learning experiences for participating youth and adults along with our entire congregation.
Our focus has been on providing our youth with the opportunity to serve in a community that is very different from the community where they live. They learn and put to use some construction skills to improve the homes of those in Appalachia, but we see a much deeper and broader effect from their time in Henderson. They develop deep relationships with each other that sustain them through the difficult years of high school. They come away with an intense awareness that they have lived privileged lives and that they are compelled by their faith in Christ to respectfully reach out to support those who have not been so fortunate.
Each summer, they return and share their stories, their learnings with the congregation in a service that is always a powerful testimony to the growth in their spiritual faith and ultimately in the faith of all of their listeners.
Students work all year long to raise funds for this weeklong summer trip. Fundraisers include monthly bake sales, bottle drives, butter braid sales, serving other church committees, car washes, a down home dinner, pancake breakfast, and more.