Monday, May 15, 2006

SPACE 2006 Senior Weekend

We had a fabulous weekend in NYC with some of our graduation Seniors. Big thanks to Jeremy Del Rio for hosting and connecting us with a few local, indigenous ministries in the East Village for us to serve and bless others.

The overall goal was to take our graduating Seniors away for the weekend and give them a chance to serve and impact as well as see the world from a different perspective. For the past two years, NYC has proven to be a great place to do both. This year also had the special privilege of our SPACEintern Emilie putting together most of this trip as a capstone internship final project. Great job Emilie!

Here is our rough timeline along with some of the activities we were involved in:
Th 3.30pm - depart GCC
Th 10.00pm - arrive East Village, staying in the Abounding Grace church building, which is a fabulous old building that used to be a bank in the 1860s.
Th 10.30pm - cultural exercise in the neighborhood

We sent the teams out in small groups of 3 or 4 into the neighborhood to observe the mix of cultures in this area of the city. Their task was to jot down as many world cultures and/or subcultures that they could identify. They could talk to people if they wanted, but the bigger emphasis was just listening and observing. Each team had a list of about 20-30 cultures when they came back. The goal here was exposure to the mix of different people here in the city - something they never see in the suburbs. And here in East Village, a few blocks from the Bowery, not even ONE hint of the area being unsafe.

F 09.30am - up and ready to go to work
F 10am-1pm - helping at a center in GenXcel's Avenue D center, spicing up kids art projects and painting a mural in one of the classrooms.
We also ate bag lunches in one of the parks across the street.
F 2pm-5pm - cleaning up GenXcel while the SPACEintern and I drove around looking for a good place to park a 15 passenger van in East Village. Although it took a while, it was a great way to get familiar with the 10 block radius.
F 7pm-11pm - helping host and serve at GenXcel's end of year 'Celebration of Excellence'
F 11.30pm - recap and debriefing, focusing on new things they experienced today, and the ideas of deciding what you MUST do having seen the realities of the world.

S 11am-5pm - sightseeing most of the day including Veniero's Pastry Shop, a classic East Village thrift store, Ground Zero, Battery Park and lunch
S 6.45pm-9pm - arrived late to Apple Core coffeehouse. The Apple Core coffeehouse is a faith community of homeless people that gather every week for fellowship, praise and worship and a meal - consider it a church of homeless people. Although we got there kind of late, we helped sing for worship, serve some food and hang out with the congregates. In addition, it was a great opportunity for two of our graduation Seniors to get up front, with only a few seconds notice, and tell a quick story of how God is real in their lives.
S 9.30pm - depart for MD
S 2.30am - arrival back at GCC

Here are some observations from the weekend:
- One of our goals was to expose these graduating seniors to what the world really looks like. It is urban, it is multicultural, it is quite different from the suburban existence. I don't think you can go to NYC without acheiving this goal.
- Abounding Grace and GenXcel is a great example of a local church ministering indigenously and contextually in their own community. The past few times I have brought teams to NYC, we have worked with mission agencies rather than local churches. All have been great experiences, but this one was unique in that concept.
- Everytime we end up in NYC, I meet more and more people that are interested in hosting our teams.

- I appreciated Apple Core Coffeehouse because 'church' there was not complicated, it was simple. This different expression of 'church' is something that our students need to see - something is wrong if they graduate and think that GCC is the only way to do church.
- Jeremy told me that East Village has historically been an area that has attracted people on the 'fringes.' Reminds me of what Neil Cole says about the fringes - that church planting happens on the fringes and not in the suburbs [can't find the quote but I'm sure its in Organic Church.]
- This weekend works best when the kids' Dteam leaders come along, like they have in the past two years. MpM, JG, and CCortes [the former two are going to be involved in Mission Advance, while CCortes is one of our LA team leaders] came with us and are just great leaders. It was great to provide an experience for them to serve alongside with their kids. As a component of the student ministry, SPACE works well when we explicitly partner with small group leaders for these kinds of experiences, building on the context of a church student ministry with it's own leaders.
- I'm not sure arriving back at church at 2am and then having students drive home in cars they left all weekend is such a good idea.
- Adolsecents need a lot of sleep. It's an important fact as we plan schedules.

Photos: our team in Battery Park; MM and one of the Xcel students during the Celebration of Excellence; working on art projects at Avenue D; painting the mural at Avenue D; helping with worship at Apple Core; two of our Seniors speaking at Apple Core [click on photos for larger size]

More of my photos and Emilie's photos

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