Middleham and St Peters Parish sent a mission team of 11 adults and 5 youths to live at St. John’s Franklin from July 12th to July 19th. St. Johns facilitated a partnership between the ecumenical group Mustard Seed Ministries of Venango County to rehab a house in Polk, Pa which was given to the local Ministerium by Polk Center. The intent is to use this house for transitional housing to help the disadvantage have a home till they can improve their economic position.
Father David Showers is rector at Middleham and St. Peters Parish 50 miles south of Washington D.C. and states that his congregation has been involved in mission work for more than 20 years. Father David said “They started doing missions with the Lakota Sioux Native American reservations in South Dakota, then going to help after Hurricane Katrina and several recent trips to West Virginia.” When the West Virginia trip did not materialize this year Pastor Erin Betz Shank, a daughter of St. John’s and assistant rector at Middleham, suggested that they come and stay at St. John’s and work with Mustard Seed Ministries.
The Mission team gutted the house in Polk doing intensive plumbing, rewiring, painting, installing new kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures and laid a new floor. Jim Yoe the mission team leader states that the team consists of two Priests Father David Showers and Father Skip Steiner, a doctor, an aeronautical engineer, a general contractor, a nuclear engineer, nurses and teacher. He continues that the real joy is passing the tradition to the youth. Kayla Jedry, 17, is the head of Middleham Youth Ministry and on her third mission trip. Kayla is a natural, Yoe states “ She leads the worship services and makes sure everyone’s working and gainfully employed” Kayla replies saying “I’ve learned how to use the nail gun and power saw, it’s a learning experience because we all learn different things we can take back and use at home.”
Several other youth mission team members had great experiences. Emily Carpenter, 13, says, “ We get along really well, I go to church with these people every Sunday but don’t really talk to them. And on this trip I got to know them. And I realize they are amazing people who really want to help the community and give to people in need of protection and shelter.“ Abbi and Evan Leaf are on their first mission trip. “It’s been really fun,” Abbi said. “And I like being able to drill stuff to the wall, that was fun, my only other experience was helping my mom. You just see what other people do, pick up a tool and do it. This is really awesome helping people.”
Father David and Karl Garland run a five star kitchen in St. John’s kitchen, sending wonderful cooking aromas throughout the church with people sleeping in every corner of the Parish Hall. There was good food, good work and good fellowship. Emily Carpenter sums up the whole experience, saying, “That God is all around us an I am really grateful for the opportunity.”
St. Johns has hosted mission groups for the previous five years from Ohio, Connecticut, Oklahoma and our own diocese and have done numerous projects to help the low-income folks in our county.
David Betz, Member of St. John’s, Franklin and a postulant in the ordination process