INDIANAPOLIS – More than 350 youth and sponsors from across Indiana spent July 7-14 in helping those in need at 25 sites across the City of Indianapolis.

Their TRANSFORMISSION service opportunities included home repairs, community building repairs, wheel chair ramp building and installations, ministry to the homeless, hosting activities for elderly guests in nursing homes, creating art for area hospitals and childcare centers, park beautification and urban gardening.

During the week, the youth served families, visited children and elderly citizens at hospitals, conducted Vacation Bible School block parties, helped sort food for food panties in community centers, worked with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis, and performed liturgical dance at local adult and children centers.

Like the annual conference Community Outreach day in June, Helene Foust, associate director of Student Ministries for the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church, said, “We have teamed with (United Methodist-related) Metro Ministries, Indianapolis congregations and agencies to help transform lives and communities through acts of love and service. High school and middle school groups were sent out into the city to perform age and skill appropriate jobs. Each worksite had a skilled coordinator who helped groups each step of the way.”

Opening worship

Youth and their leaders kicked off the week-long mission event in worship at Ransburg Auditorium on the campus of the University of Indianapolis, Sunday night, July 7. The praise band Sixteen Cities of Dallas, Texas, led worship music.

Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner gave a homily before officiating in the ritual of Holy Communion. He seemed to startle the youth when he asked them point blank, “How do you know you are a Christian?”

He said it might be because you were baptized.

“Hopefully, you know you are a Christian because you believe in Jesus Christ,” he said. “Saying I believe in Jesus is different than saying I believe Jesus.”

Coyner also challenged the youth with “a new answer.” That answer is: “Just watch me this week. It’s not who but when is a Christian?”

He reminded the youth that Jesus said, “When you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.”

He closed by saying; “When we do what Christ asks us to do, we do amazing things.”

He followed his homily by blessing ten loaves of bread and ten chalices. He then gave loaves of bread and chalices of grape juice to ten serving teams who walked to different places in the auditorium so that youth and their sponsors, plus other guests, could receive communion.

The Rev. Aaron Helman of Firehouse Youth Ministries based at Clay UMC in South Bend also spoke during the opening worship and throughout the week.

Building relationships

Foust also said, “One of the most exciting aspects of this mission project was that youth truly experienced the value of being part of a connectional church. While together, youth shared their gifts and talents to make a big impact in the city, as well as gather together for worship, prayer and fellowship opportunities that are not always possible in every church setting. Youth served together from all over Indiana (and beyond) to form new relationships and experience the power of unity and Christ’s Spirit in their midst.”

The Mission Trip Experience Team said that building relationships was a huge emphasis for the mission trip experience. The week was designed to build relationships with

  • Christ,
  • The people and communities served,
  • Other UMC youth, and
  • Each other.

Each day began with group devotions and ended with a worship service.

INDIANAPOLIS – Serving at the Fletcher Place Community Center food pantry are (from left) Jared Kingery of Terre Haute, Alex Boelk of Apple River, Ill., Judy McLean of Vincennes, Matt Hernes of Vincennes and Madison Wagner of Vincennes. These youths and leaders joined more than 350 other volunteers in the weeklong TRANSFORMISSION experience at 25 sites across the City of Indianapolis July 7-14.

TRANSFORMISSION began with worship led by Sixteen Cities, a Dallas praise band.

Bishop Coyner officiated during Communion on the first night.