It’s not every day a SWAT team shows up at your worksite when you’re on a mission trip. But that’s what happened to the young people who gathered in Woodstock, Ontario, for a summer SERVE project.
Kristin Klein, ministry coordinator at host church Maranatha CRC in Woodstock, assembled a SWAT team of 13 young people to spread enthusiasm, encourage SERVE participants, and help with planning and worship. The planning team wanted to make SERVE “uniquely Woodstock” for the teens who participated and came up with the SWAT team idea: “Serving Woodstock All Together.”
Two SWAT team members help prepare food for SERVE teams in Woodstock.
The SWAT team was made up of members of Maranatha’s youth group in grades 8 to 11. According to Klein, with the church in transition because of a recent move and some revisioning, it would have been difficult to send a team on a SERVE project—but the youth were willing to serve at home.
Klein noted, “When Woodstock first started with SERVE, our youth were very involved and did most of the planning and running of SERVE.” When a mentorship plan was set up to encourage leadership, one of the youth even joined the host team, attending meetings, helping plan, and acting as a liaison between the youth and the host team.
Throughout the week, the team’s responsibilities were varied. They helped set up, acted as a welcoming committee for arriving SERVE teams, helped run sound and video for worship sessions, visited and participated in work sites, cleaned the church, and generally supported the host team while building relationships with SERVE participants.
“The host team,” said Klein, “was amazed at how some of the SWAT members grew and took on positive leadership roles during the week.” At least six SWAT team members hope to participate in next year’s SERVE trip, and several will continue to develop their leadership skills in the mentoring program.