Home Christian News Youth Group Mission Strives to be ‘Hope, Love, Light’ to Neighbors

Youth Group Mission Strives to be ‘Hope, Love, Light’ to Neighbors

youth group mission
Youth and adults from Oregon United Methodist Church and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, both in Oregon, Ill., repair the porch on a home in Tracy City, Tenn. The team volunteered with Mountain T.O.P., a ministry that serves families in the Cumberland Mountain region of southeast Tennessee. Photo by the Rev. Thomas Kim, UM News.

After missing the opportunity in 2020 due to COVID-19, a youth group from a small northern Illinois town came to Coalmont, Tennessee, in July for its mission trip at Mountain T.O.P., a rural outreach project.

The group consisted of 22 youth and seven adults from two small congregations, Oregon United Methodist Church and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oregon, Illinois — which has a population of fewer than 4,000.

Until last year, the two churches had shared a mission trip every year since 2011. Oregon United Methodist raised money for the 2020 mission trip, but had to cancel and decided to use it for this year’s mission trip instead.

“However, we got more donations of some items that we would use during the mission trip from two congregations,” said Nancy Crandall, the youth director of Oregon United Methodist.

Her ministry goal through annual mission trips is to give the youth group different experiences as Christians.

“It is important for youth to see the different living conditions in this country,” she said. “We’ve gone to urban areas, Native American reservations. Through the mission trip, we give the youth different experiences, open their eyes wide to a different part of America, and enhance their lives. The mission trip gave them a true sense of servanthood.”

Mission team members hold a morning devotional at the Mountain T.O.P. ministry headquarters in Coalmont, Tenn., before leaving for their work site. Photo by the Rev. Thomas Kim, UM News.
For some of the youth, she noted, it was their first trip outside their hometown.

Crandall believes that Mountain T.O.P. is one of the places that can provide her youth group that kind of experience.

Mountain T.O.P. is a mission organization that assigns youth and adult campers places of mission in Grundy County, Tennessee, and which has worked in partnership with the South Cumberland Plateau community since 1975.

Julie Keel, program director and interim executive director, noted that the poverty level of Grundy County is one of the highest in Tennessee.

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Rev. Thomas Kim is director of Korean and Asian news at United Methodist Communications. Contact him at newsdesk@umnews.org.