By Stan Friedman
PALATINE, IL (May 6, 2014) — Members of DeerGrove Covenant Church who participated in Mission Detroit prior to the Covenant’s Annual Meeting last year are eager to join in activities connected with Experience Chicagoland, which will offer opportunities to engage in ministries of compassion, mercy, and justice.
“Mission Detroit was a great experience for us,” says Alicia Vela, DeerGrove’s pastor of children, families, and administration. “As soon as it was over, people were saying they wanted to do something like it again this year.”
Experience Chicagoland will be held Monday through Wednesday, June 23–25, in Chicago and surrounding communities extending as far as Rockford, Illinois, and Madison, Wisconsin. It is part of Gather ’14, which also includes the denomination’s Annual Meeting, which will take place that Thursday through Saturday at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.
Mission Detroit was the first time the denomination sponsored a large-scale mission project prior to the Annual Meeting. After its success, organizers decided to offer similar opportunities and expand possibilities for participation this year.
DeerGrove’s experience with Mission Detroit gave church members a new perspective on the city and expanded their engagement in Deer Grove, Vela says.
“It was especially good for the kids to hear from pastors in the morning what it is like to minister in their community and city before the kids went to work in those areas,” Vela says. The experience became one of more than cleaning yards as church members were able to connect with people.
Once they were back home, church members began to look more closely at justice issues, such as immigration, poverty, and bullying. “The issues are really prevalent in our city,” Vela says. The church has since started to partner with other organizations working in their community.
Experience Chicagoland will include service projects where participants can work at a food pantry, help with a community garden, and tutor students. Tours to the National Museum of Mexican Art and Cambodian-American Heritage Museum and Killing Field Memorial will be offered, and several overnight immersion experiences also will be available.
“This is not a one-size-fits-all, but a chance to observe how each ministry prayerfully discerned God’s call for incarnational ministry based on the needs and resources in their respective contexts,” says Debbie Blue, executive minister of compassion, mercy, and justice.