SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Crafts served as connectors across denominational boundaries for Jeremiah House, the Service Adventure unit in South Bend, Ind.
In December 2007, five participants from Jeremiah House worked with children and the children's special event department at New Life Fellowship Ministry, a South Bend Apostolic church, to create works of art to be used in the congregation’s annual Christmas program.
The Service Adventure participants first connected with New Life Fellowship when Laura Kraybill, unit leader, talked with Ann Jacobs, Mennonite Mission Network office services coordinator, at the bi-annual convention in San Jose, Calif.
Jacobs, a member at New Life and the coordinator of the children’s Christmas program, has always wanted to find ways to bring together her own congregation and the South Bend Service Adventure house, one of Mission Network’s Christian Service programs.
“My challenge to Laura and to the church really was just to say that we have connections in other countries, but what about the neighboring churches or the churches that are shoulder-to-shoulder with us? How can we branch out and be a part of other faith communities?” Jacobs said.
Jacobs invited Kraybill and the South Bend unit to be a part of New Life’s Sunday worship. Their initial visit led into the Christmas projects.
Service Adventure participants set up a variety of stations in the church basement that allowed children to express their creativity through art. Projects included decorating gingerbread ornaments and creating a large “Star of Bethlehem” used in the Christmas program. The children also made a large greeting card for a sister church in Entebbe, Uganda.
On December 21, members of the unit attended the church’s Christmas program that included a performance by a sign-language choir, a nativity play, a mime dance group, recitations, an offering to support Hope for Children of Africa in Uganda, and singing led by the children.
Service Adventure participants said visiting New Life allowed them to connect with children and adults from a different faith tradition. They hope to join the congregation for Sunday morning worship in the future.
“The children really got to share the real meaning of Christmas. We always try to connect with people outside of our congregation and for them that was getting to make that connection with Service Adventure and Uganda,” said Jacobs.
Participants at Jeremiah House are Charity Gingerich of Upper Deer Creek Conservative Mennonite Church (Kalona, Iowa), Sharla Kauffman of Martins Mennonite Church (Orrville, Ohio), Alexia Kaufman, and Tirza Ridderbusch of Freie Evangelical Gemeinde (Extertal-Boesingfeld, Germany).
Service Adventure, one of Mennonite Mission Network’s Christian Service programs, invites young adults ages 17-20 to live in a household with four to six other youth and to serve in a community for 10 months in a variety of locations across the United States.