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Get ready for summer

Summer opportunities in Detroit

Summer has always been a time of engagement for Michigan United Methodists of all ages. The next three months will be different but there will still be opportunities for ministry and mission. 

Senior Content Editor

The summer is ready for you! Although it will be a summer unlike those you’ve known before. Ministry has never shut down in Michigan during the months of June, July, and August. And even though COVID-19 is affecting how traditional ministries will happen, disciples will be made, and communities will be transformed.

It is going to be different for much of our long-standing church summer programming. But you have help in navigating those changes. Conference staff are providing three things to help you get ready for the summer of 2020. There is information about the status of ministries and missions you’ve come to know and love. And there are ideas about how to create a plan that safely engages the children, youth, and adults in your congregation. Finally, there are resources to help you work that plan. All of these things are collected on the new Summer Opportunities webpage.

Here’s a peek at the great opportunities to connect, have fun, learn, and serve this summer.

First, camp. Some of the experiences we have all grown to love will not be available. Summer resident camping for children and youth has been canceled at Lake Michigan and Wesley Woods Camp and Retreat Centers, Lake Louise, and Michigamme. At this date, Bay Shore is praying to move forward with summer ministries. Lake Huron Retreat Center, Lakeview Family Camp, and Lake Michigan Camp and Retreat Center may also host some activities using recommended health safety precautions. There are Virtual Day Camp programs – Camp Without Borders — available from Michigan Area UM Camping. Vacation rental options at Lake Louise and Bay View Association will post an online calendar as plans develop there. All details on the Summer Opportunities page.

Vacation Bible School. Rev. Kathy Pittenger, Michigan Conference Coordinator of Children’s Initiatives, has a great handle on the rethinking of VBS. The Michigan Conference Children’s Ministry Toolbox is loaded with ideas and resources to help churches pivot from the usual VBS to other possibilities like a Backyard or Drive-In VBS. And Kathy suggests churches start with important questions like: What is your “WHY” for VBS? What are your values and guiding principles? What are your volunteers saying? What are your families saying? And other issues regarding context and safety precautions. There’s a curriculum comparison chart, as well, with links to available VBS kits. In other words, all you need to make responsible decisions about whether to build or to cancel VBS in 2020.

Mission service. There have been many ways for young people and adults to put their hands and hearts to work both in their communities, across the state, and around the country. That landscape has changed but that does NOT mean everyone will be sitting on their hands through the summer instead of helping their neighbor.

This video, hosted by the Rev. Christy Miller White, Michigan Conference Coordinator of Youth Ministry Initiatives, features the Rev. Carl Gladstone explaining the whys and hows and whats of summer opportunities.

  • Each summer the Michigan Conference recruits and deploys young adult interns to serve at Mission Intern and CDF Freedom Schools sites offering children’s summer day camps and hosting mission teams. Sites are currently making decisions about summer programming. Questions? Contact Lisa Batten, Young Adult Ministry Initiatives Coordinator.
  • Volunteer in Mission trips organized by your congregation. Steps are offered on how to move forward safely and responsibly. This includes guidelines from the North Central Jurisdiction UMVIM Office.
  • NCJ-UMVIM even offers Virtual Mission Trips, including Cass Community Social Services.
  • Michigan Sites. God’s Country Cooperative Parish, Motown Mission, and Cass Community Social Services have been destinations for mission work teams in the past. They still are but in new ways. Details about how to support work in Detroit and the Upper Peninsula are available on the Summer Opportunities webpage.

United Methodist Women. The 2020 Mission u events scheduled for Albion College, Troy: Big Beaver UM, Lake Huron Retreat Center, and Gaylord: First UMC are canceled. 2020 study offerings may be available online in the future, visit the Michigan Conference UMW website for more information and updates.

Are you ready for the summer? You will be on the way to ready once you visit the Summer Opportunities page. If you have questions, these persons are available to be in conversation with you. Paul Perez, Associate Director for Mission and Ministry ; Kathy Pittenger, Children’s Initiatives Coordinator; Christy Miller White, Youth Ministry Initiatives Coordinator; and Lisa Batten, Young Adult Initiatives Coordinator.