“Ministry is what happens in the margins,” our program coordinator, Chris, told us on the first day of work on the Senior High Youth Group mission trip to New Orleans this past June. “If you don’t have a margin of time, or money, or energy, you will not have extra space in your life for ministry to others. And that’s what you’re doing this week—creating a margin in which you will be able to serve and be served in a unique way.”

From June 16th to the 22nd, twenty-one teenagers and adult chaperones from the Congregational Church of Amherst stretched their margins and traveled beyond their comfortable limits to learn more about God and the world in which we live. Our service projects included painting the inside and outside of two houses for folks in need, building the walls of a local space for a youth group (just like us!), planting marsh grass to preserve the Louisiana coast, and sorting Mardi Gras beads with adults with mental disabilities. The work was hard, and some days were long, but the act of service was so rewarding. The teens of this church worked harder than our service partners ever expected they would, and we completed every project we set out to accomplish.

This annual trip is often the highlight of the year for our SHYG teens. They grow closer as a group, bonding over service and shared experience, and closer in their faith, exploring God and spirituality more deeply than they do at home. This year, they found God in the margins, and served that God by serving others.

SHYG Mission Trip 2019 New Orleans: Forming Relational Engagement for Life

At the beginning of the summer each year, the Senior High Youth Group goes on a mission trip. Generally, we go somewhere new, far away from the comfort of our own beds and familiar community to meet the face of God in others. In this complex world, in which young people are so often pulled in so many different directions, it is easy to feel disconnected from our roots in God’s community. When we go on mission trips, we form a special community shaped by new, challenging, and spirit-filled experiences. We forge relationships that allow us to ask difficult questions and celebrate intense joys.

These experiences of community building and personal involvement alongside people working against poverty, racism, and environmental injustice offers an authenticity that shapes the relevancy of the entire church(1).  Through serving our neighbors near and far, we not only talk about justice, but immerse ourselves in places experiencing those exclusions. We not only think about God’s love for the whole world, but live it by walking alongside the most vulnerable. This kind of engagement can take place across the street and in different places around the nation or world. In my experience, when youth go away to get engaged in service for the irst time, they come home more open to the path of our deeper engagement in their own community.

This year, the SHYG will be returning to New Orleans to work on home reconstruction and coastal restoration. These two kinds of projects respond to ongoing needs in the city of New Orleans—rebuilding a city still deeply effected by Hurricane Katrina, and protecting the city from future natural disasters. We will be partnering with an organization called Camp Hope, a ministry of The Gathering church and community center. Together, we will encounter God in the city of New Orleans, and learn a lot about ourselves in the process!

God Bless,
Pastor Kate

SHYG Mission Trip 2018

Miami – Florida June 17-23, 2018

In June SHYG is volunteering with the DOOR organization, which serves a diverse urban population through food pantries, homeless shelters, urban gardnes, and programs that serve children, the elderly, adults with disabilities, and immigrant communities.

Our teens earn their fundraising money by participating in service projects and events in our church and community throughout the year.  We also set aside some of the money raised to offer as a donation to the organizations we work with on the trip, as many only charge enough to cover their costs.  All donations to SHYG go a long way towards helping others, and helping our teens make a difference in the world!

2017 Mission Trip

The 2016 Mission Trip took us back to New Orleans, where we were in 2012.  Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans is still recovering from the devastating effects of floodwaters that left 70% of its homes damaged or destroyed. We again worked with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans, an organization that repairs homes with the goal of selling them at a deep discount to teachers, to encourag

e educators to return to the area. See photos below to see how our teens make a difference in the world!

Photo Jun 24, 1 09 14 PM

2015 Mission Trip

And they are off!  Our SHYG departed this morning, Sun. June 14th, for Washington D.C., where they will work for a week with the YSOP organization.And they are on their way!

And they are on their way!

2014 Mission Trip

Five vans. Four travel days. Eighteen hundred miles. One night at a very sketchy hotel. Six nights sleeping on a church floor. Sharing space with seventy people. Four showers, all outside with cold water. Five families. Five homes. Five days of hard, hard work. Five days that changed us all, forever.

There are two primary reasons why our teens join our Senior High Youth Group – to build relationships that help them to feel not so alone in the world, and to make a difference in the lives of others. Once a year we send them off on a mission trip that allows them to do both in amazing and life-changing ways.

Read about the SHYG’s amazing 2014 mission trip in the September Spire.  They went to TENNESSEE and worked with the Appalachia Service Project rebuilding homes, getting to know the families who own them, and learning about the people of Appalachia and the issues they face living in one of the poorest areas of our country.



2013 Mission Trip

2013 SHYG Mission Departure

2013 SHYG Mission Departure

In April 2013 members of our Senior High Youth Group will travel to New York City to take part in a week long service project to aid the victims of Super-storm Sandy and to serve inner-city communities in need.  We will be working with a group called Youth Service Opportunities Project (, an organization committed to helping young people become part of the solution to societal problems by showing them how even their smallest actions can make a difference in the lives of others.

We have more than 38 passionate and caring teens in our group, and every week we’ve been growing in numbers as parents and teens in the area hear of the support and stability of this group.

As you can imagine, traveling with a group this large can be expensive but the teens are determined to do all of the fundraising themselves and have already held several events (Gift Card Raffle, Spaghetti Supper, etc.) so please watch for upcoming events and support our teens and their mission!  For more information contact Pastor Maureen by email or at 673-3232, ext. 14

2012 Mission Trip – Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

Come listen during the May 13th worship service to the SHYG tell their stories of their April mission trip to New Orleans, working with the Youth Rebuilding New Orleans organization (YRNO).  The group is restoring homes in New Orleans and targeting them for sale to teachers under the theory the teachers will anchor and stabilize neighborhoods as they continue to recover.  Stay tuned for a gallery of photos!

Please visit the YRNO website for more information on what our youth did on their trip:

2011 Mission Trip – Litttleton (NH) Workcamp Foundations

The SHYG traveled to Littleton NH this past June to work with the Workcamp Foundations group. They helped homeowners with home repairs and fix-ups and enjoyed the fellowship of the people they helped.

Littleton has been hit hard with job losses in recent years; tourism remains a mainstay of the region’s economy, and unemployment is high. On this mission, our group brought some help where it’s needed most. There were 23 teens and 6 chaperones on the retreat.