She was a young teenager, awkward, and very obviously out of her comfort zone. She had signed up to participate in the Summer Impact program because she wanted to make a difference in the world. But now that she was actually there in the Gathering Place of the Downtown Campus serving lunch to the Over-the-Rhine community, she was anxious. Her stomach was a bundle of nerves. She took a deep breath….
He was an older man, grisly, and very obviously at home in the Gathering Place. He had come to eat at the Downtown Campus because he was hungry, and he had heard he might find a good meal. But now that he was actually there, he found himself sitting alone at a table. As his hunger pains relented, he once again felt the familiar ache of loneliness.
They exchanged a greeting, unsure but pleasant, and she sat down next to him. She wondered if his small untidy bag of belongings was truly all he owned in the world.
The man looked up from his meal, smiled, and asked her if she ever read the Bible.
Yes,” she said. “In Youth Group.” But don’t ask me any questions, she thought. I don’t know what to say.
He asked a question, “I just read Matthew 20:34, ‘Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.’ What do you make of that?”
She shrugged her shoulders and he laughed, and in that moment, everything changed. As they launched deep into conversation, she realized she could be comfortable in the Gathering Place. This was the same kind of conversation she had with her friends. As he shared his ideas, he realized he had something to give. Over a simple sandwich and a side of chips, he could offer a lifetime of faith.
Summer Impact at Hyde Park Community UMC is full of moments just like this one. Through a daily rhythm of study, service and celebration, participants experience new and developing relationships, new and different ways to serve, new and deepening faith. Since its inception in 2010, Summer Impact has become a launching point for groups and families to serve in Cincinnati and through their experience learn more about serving in their own communities. Since 2010, our ministry partners have come to rely on the Summer Impact teams.