St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Venice, celebrated its annual Youth Sunday on June 6.
Youth Sunday has been one of the most joyous traditions at St. Mark’s for many years and this year was no exception.
Members of the group participated in various aspects of worship. Following the service, they joined the rest of the church family for the first coffee hour since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Under the guidance of interim Youth Minister Crystal Avella, the group met regularly throughout the pandemic and the members have maintained their close bonds.
The group is structured to help students recognize God’s loving presence in their lives. They are organized into groups by age, and each participant is encouraged to develop his or her skills, then use them to spread God’s love to the community and the world.
They have participated in the Venice Crop Walk and the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign. They have also done Christmas shopping for local families, and they organize a large annual Easter egg hunt for local children.
Participation in mission trips has changed the lives of many young members at St. Mark’s.
Youths and their adult chaperones have lived and worked at the Futuro Lleno de Esperanza Preschool in Cienfuegos, a barrio near Santiago, Dominican Republic.
During three mission trips to that facility, they organized a summer program for the school, helped repair the building and installed a water storage system. Their work at the school became a major bridge between the school and the community.
Over the past five years, the young people have also repaired storm-damaged homes in New Orleans; served food to the homeless in Philadelphia; picked vegetables alongside migrant workers in New Jersey; painted a convent in Montgomery, Alabama; helped cook meals at a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C.; and learned firsthand what it was like to live under Jim Crow Laws from seniors at a senior citizen center in Selma, Alabama.
They have also had time for fellowship, including attending Rock the Universe at Universal Studios, as well as snow-tubing in the mountains and sliding down water rapids in the Dominican Republic.
Fifteen young people and adults from St. Mark’s will be participating in a mission trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, July 18-24. They will be participating in various community and outreach projects there.
The St. Mark’s Youth Group is open to all area youths in grades four through 12. All are welcome.