In the Spring of 2017, the Church of the Holy Cross, Medford, NJ organized a unique youth event that would bring to life the Gospel message of caring for others in need. Archpriest John Shimchick, Pastor, and the event coordinator, Phyllis Pritchard, worked with Camden, NJ’s Covenant House and local police and social services to help the youth of the parish learn about homeless children and teens.
“What’s It Like?” is a new article written by Father John that highlights the important life lessons gained from their “Covenant House Sleep Out” experience. It appears on the Orthodox Church in America’s web site as yet another offering in the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid’s Parish Ministry Resources.
“Our youth spent the night in cardboard boxes and their sleeping bags on the parish’s parking lot, away from the comfort of their homes, experiencing something of the uncertainty and discomfort of life on the street,” Father John writes. “While raising funds to benefit the efforts of Covenant House in Camden, they learned about the plight of homeless young people — not the kids thousands of miles away or on TV — but the kids just a few miles away, who slip by unnoticed.”
Father John recounts the activities and overnight hours not only as an important event, but as a guide for other parishes to organize similar programs for the youth in their communities.