This is the fifth in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.
The Pacific Inland Northwest Exchange is a mission exchange program operated as a ministry of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane. PINE works in partnership with the West Central Episcopal Mission and Between the Ridges on the Yakama Reservation. PINE invites youth groups from within or outside our Diocese to spend a week serving at mission sites in Spokane and the Yakima Valley. Adults accompany those under 18, as young as 10. Groups are placed in sites which match their interest so that the work on the mission can translate into outreach they can continue in their home communities.
Michelle Klippert, youth minister at the Cathedral of St. John in Spokane, and Tracey Waring, a lay leader at St. Andrew’s in Spokane (Klippert and Waring are pictured at left). The idea for the mission exchange developed out of conversations among youth workers in the Diocese. Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church moved to a model of asset-based community development for ministries. “Looking at the diocese’s assets, the idea of mission trips arose,” Waring said. Between the Ridges, Campbell Farm, the Cathedral, St. Andrew’s and West Central Episcopal Mission decided to create mission opportunities for youth.
In 2014, PINE hosted summer mission experiences for middle- and high-school youthgroups from June 23 to July 18 at the West Central Episcopal Mission in Spokane and from July 21 to August 8 in the Yakima Valley.
In Spokane, youth started the day at a summer food program based in the West Central Episcopal Mission, formerly Holy Trinity Church. Teens served meals and worked with children. In the afternoon, they worked with Our Place, Project Hope and other agencies to do yard cleanup for West Central Neighbors.
In Yakima, youth worked with Campbell Farm’s summer food program in the morning and at different agencies in the afternoon, such as the food bank, Noah’s Ark and a Yakama Indian Nation yard clean-up program.
Late afternoons and early evenings, there was recreation. Every night ended with worship. Participants kept a notebook with responses to questions created to stir theological reflection on what they were doing and why they did it: “Who are my neighbors? Where did I see the face of Christ today?” They also discussed their experiences.
Speaking of the value of this program and others like it, Klippert said, “There is power in taking youth out of their home town and showing them poverty somewhere else, where they can see it clearly,” she said. “Once they recognize poverty, it’s hard to ignore it at home.” Michelle said youth return committed to help people in need in their hometown. A mission trip sets the foundation for their engaging in ministry from helping as acolytes to volunteering at a food bank.
Part of the mission of PINE in Spokane was to run a Stone Soup Café for 10 weeks, serving breakfast and lunch, and offering a program using “Godly Play,” building Bible stories in Lego, music, crafts and other activities.
Dixie, a youth participant, learned that many children don’t have access to art and craft supplies at home.
“Putting a piece of paper in their hand and watching their creative side fly was the best part of working with PINE,” she said.
Over the summer, the Stone Soup Café served 36 three-to-13-year-old children and about 40 teens from Project Hope a total of 4,761 meals. Youth in Project Hope run two urban farms, grow vegetables, mow lawns and sell what they grow in an open market.
Children caught “doing good” earned blessing bucks they used to buy ice cream or school supplies for their backpacks.
In addition to the $20,000 Mission Enterprise Zone grant, Bishop James Waggoner, Jr., contributed $5,000 and spent time with the children. Each youth paid $300 for the week with these fees raising $3,000. The USDA funded food. About $10,000 is left from the grant, and the diocese now includes PINE in its budget.