by Ben Wideman, Youth Pastor, Salford
Salford Mennonite Church is a place with many resources and talents – yet we as a church are often are at a loss at how to use these resources in the world. Every once in a while, an opportunity takes shape that touches us in a meaningful way.
During the month of February, Salford’s members collected over 50 grocery bags filled with non-perishable food items, as has been a tradition for many years. The second part of this tradition is that Salford’s youth have delivered the groceries to a community where this can be of use. Our youth leaders reached out to Steve Kriss at Franconia Conference, who suggested that it might be helpful to get in touch with the Ripple Allentown community.
Our inquiry was met with a quick response from Pastor Ben Walter, who explained that they would love the chance to connect with the Salford youth. We made plans to join them during their monthly “Community Sunday” – an intentional day set aside each month to connect with their local neighborhood.
A group of Salford’s youth and a few adults loaded up a van full of grocery bags and made the short trip north to the Ripple community. We were assigned to groups and led around by members of the Ripple family, knocking on doors and delivering groceries to anyone who needed them. We heard stories about ways that Ripple has been able to reach out to its neighborhood and were pleasantly surprised by the response we received from the people we met.
It was incredible to experience and participate in this kind of basic service and hospitality – especially in a neighborhood that was different from our own. Salford’s youth enjoyed meeting families from the neighborhood and connecting in inter-generational ways. While each participant experienced the day in their own unique way, all came away with a new-found respect for the Ripple Allentown community and the passion they have for service and hospitality. We were left wondering how we can capture this spirit of giving more fully in our own lives and how we can continue to work to bring about God’s Kingdom in our own local context. It was certainly a day we will cherish moving forward.