LSS Winterfest: Heeding Christ’s Call to Feed

Approximately 430 high school youth and their leaders had a chance to serve, pray and speak together for justice at Winterfest, the Lower Susquehanna Synod’s youth gathering, on Jan. 3. Based on the theme “Hungry,” and centered on Matthew’s story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the gathering was a collaboration of the synod youth ministry, hunger leaders, LAMPa and others in the community — a beautiful example of being the church together.

“I appreciated how the event explored, ‘You give them something to eat’ as Christ’s living word to the church today,” said the Rev. Timothy Seitz-Brown, a member of the synod’s World Hunger Committee.

Heeding Christ’s call that weekend, youth and adults built 20 raised garden beds and packed seeds to donate to school and community gardens in the Lancaster area and contacted lawmakers urging them to act on the Housing Trust Fund. They also took home seeds and GardenSoxx to give to congregational or community gardens or to donate to someone in need of fresh food.

Throughout the weekend, youth and leaders heard from a number of speakers about the many ways in which our world is hungry for the abundant life that Christ offers.

LAMPa stuff helped connect the dots between hunger, housing, poverty and education – and between service and advocacy on those issues. Youth heard from Charisma, a member of the Peter’s Porch worshipping community, about her experience with homelessness; then joined her in advocacy on behalf of others still in need of a place to call home by signing postcards and sending letters urging lawmakers to support expanding the state Housing Trust Fund.

“Over the past two years, the Lower Susquehanna Synod Office for Children, Youth & Family Ministry has enjoyed a growing partnership with our colleagues in the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of Pennsylvania (LAMPa),” said Charlie Roberts, Director for Children, Youth and Family Ministry.

“LAMPa representatives Tracey DePasquale and Amy Reumann, have been instrumental in both helping us create and lead some interactive curriculum for our annual senior-high and young adult event, Winterfest. Our most recent event that focused on a theme of “Hunger,” included opportunities for youth to enter into dialogue about hunger issues right in their own communities, based on county-by-county research provided to us by LAMPa. Additionally, LAMPa leadership helped connect us with hunger advocates and activists who inspired our service learning component that included constructing and gifting raised garden beds and seed packets to community gardens and local families in need. LAMPa has helped our youth to see advocacy as a critical link in overcoming hunger insecurity systemically, above and beyond our immediate response through local feeding programs and food collection drives.”

The synod’s World Hunger Committee, which donated funds for the garden beds, seeds and Gardensoxx, is eager for continued collaboration.

“Not being a congregational youth leader, it was a privilege to be able to visit Winterfest this year and hear the awesome messages shared by staff and guest speakers,” said Cheryl Burns, Hunger Committee chair. “I was equally inspired listening to the conversations taking place while the youth were putting together garden beds to be used in schools within the School District of Lancaster and about how they plan to use Gardensoxx and vegetable seeds. I can’t wait to see what our synod’s youth are able to accomplish this year and hope that the World Hunger Committee can play a part.”

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