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Have You Heard? Youth Service Trips to New England

Betsey Guest-Natale

Betsey Guest-Natale, Volunteer Coordinator at Second Congregational Church of Boxford (Massachusetts) wants NCNC churches to know about the Boston-North Backyard Mission, which introduces its participants to the myriad ways in which they can use their skills to serve.

From their website:

Boston-North Backyard Mission, a ministry of Second Congregational Church of Boxford, welcomes groups to a variety of urban and suburban service experiences in and around northern Massachusetts.  Uniquely situated in a picturesque location with an outdoor lakeside worship space, our church serves as a wonderful retreat after serving the urban poor in nearby city neighborhoods or aiding local suburban service groups.

Participants will experience a variety of service opportunities during their week.  You will serve food insecure persons in the city of Lawrence, the poorest city in Massachusetts, at a restaurant-style soup kitchen.  You may serve organizations that provide necessities to vulnerable children, or offer therapeutic riding for those with disabilities, or grow a sustainable food system.  You will explore a variety of ways to serve others and learn what inspires you. Read more.

Adapted from the Southern New England Conference newsletter:

Betsey shared that Youth Ministry has been her vocation and passion for over 20 years. She has led youth mission trips during all those years and knows from experience how transformative these extended service experiences can be.

The idea of hosting youth mission trips was brewing at Second Congregational Church of Boxford for some time. The volunteers who work with our youth as mentors on the mission trips imagined that we could host youth groups and provide service opportunities in our community, just as other hosts have done for us.

In 2019, a team of advocates from Second Church explored the logistics of such an endeavor. We have a wonderful church campus with a large parish hall for sleeping, an industrial kitchen, and outdoor worship space. We also have relationships with many local service organizations. We don’t yet have showers, although a decade ago, some forward-thinking members added outdoor faucets to a building on our church campus in hopes that they might be used for showers someday.

The vision for Boston-North Backyard Mission was presented at our church annual meeting in February 2020 and received overwhelming support. It was a win, win, win situation. We would be able to provide experiences for youth groups, our community would benefit from the work of the volunteers, and the church building would be utilized in the summer months when it is often vacant. We could even employ a summer intern. With joy and hope, Boston-North Backyard Mission (BNBM) was born. Read more.

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