Mission Ministries at St. Matthews Lutheran Church
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." - 1 Peter 4:10
Christ is always working through his children to share the message of His salvation to those across the globe. Members of our congregation help spread this message through service in His name to others in need both in our local community and around the world.
Support & Prayer for Other Congregations:
- Resurrection Lutheran Church: Channahon, IL
- Elarai Parish: Tanzania, Africa
- Open Arms Lutheran: Rockton, IL
- Lord of Love Lutheran: Galena, IL
Support & Prayer for Christ's Larger Church:
Our offerings support the ministry of our congregation (St Matthews), of our Synod (Northern Illinois Synod) and church wide (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
Covered Bridge Workcamp 2016
St. Matthews was the lead congregation which helped bring Workcamp to the Princeton area on June 19-26, 2016. Elderly, handicapped, and lower-income residents in Princeton and surrounding communities within 30 minutes of Princeton (Logan Junior High School) were eligible to submit an application for free home repairs.
Our Covered Bridge Workcamp provided this free home repairs through Group Cares (formerly Group Workcamp Foundation), and was hosted and co-sponsored by St. Matthews and other local churches, service organizations, and local entities. From the 101 applications received, 34 residents of Princeton and Bureau County benefited from the work. This included exterior and interior painting, drywall work, wheel chair ramps and porches.
The work was done by 241 teenage and adult volunteers who each paid $448 for the privilege to be part of Workcamp. These volunteers from around the USA came from as far away as Florida and Oklahoma and from as close as our own "backyard" of Princeton and Bureau County. St. Matthews campers had the shortest journey with nine youth and three adults, along with three youth from First Lutheran-Ohio and Immanuel-Dixon who were part of our local group. Each team of five workers were often composed of youth from other areas of the country. So, each St. Matthews youth got to know and work with four other volunteers from around the country.
Group Cares also sent 20 Workcamp Staffers to run and oversee the camp. Three adults were paid staff, but 17 adults came from around the country as volunteers paying their own way from places as far away as Oregon and Maine, and as close as the Quad Cities and around Illinois.
Our 2016 Covered Bridge Workcamp had a $203,533.16 economic impact on Bureau County. We bought paint and lumber supplies locally, and the volunteers also spent their own money in our community. This does not include the almost 1000 pounds of food and supplies donated to the Bureau County Food Pantry by the 241 campers. Much of these donations were purchased locally.
Yet, one of the largest impacts of this week was the spiritual growth of campers, volunteers and residents. In the background were 65 people from various Bureau County congregations and beyond who were part of a 24 hour/week long Prayer Vigil. For the volunteers, each day began in Pannebaker Gymnasium for worship followed by instructions and safety tips. Each work team had noon time devotions at their job sites, and they would also invite their resident(s) to join them. Each evening in the gym, the whole group gathered for worship, and the campers were invited to share "God Sightings" where they saw God at work earlier that day. Each evening closed with participants having a Bible Study and devotions with their own "hometown" group before retiring for the night. The spiritual impact was huge, not only for many of the residents, but also for the volunteers. In fact, one Lutheran congregation from Iowa with 31 volunteers had invited some "seekers" to the Christian faith to be part of their mission trip, and at the end of the week that Lutheran group (as part of their evening Bible study and devotions) rejoiced as their pastor baptized a mother and daughter in the courtyard of Logan! Praise be to God and the power of the Spirit!
None of this would have been possible without the presence of God, but also vital was the expertise of Group Cares, who also gave us our name of "Covered Bridge Workcamp." Group Cares is a non-profit, interdenominational Christian volunteer home-repair organization headquartered in Loveland, Colorado. They have been organizing such camps since 1978.
In 2016, almost 25,000 young people and adults participated in 36 Workcamps in communities across the United States. Key to the success of this becoming a "premier" camp were our local volunteers. This included the over 65 people who volunteered during the week of camp (and set-up and clean-up) to directly support the 241 campers and to work alongside Group Workcamp staff. We also has a very large number of people who were part of the 15 congregational and communities groups providing treats for the campers. In addition to the 16 co-sponsors, another 45 businesses and community entities contributed towards this Workcamp, and 31 households and businesses loaned ladders. This community effort began with the first organization meeting held on Thursday, March 5, 2015 in the basement of St. Matthews, and from this grew an ecumenical and community wide planning committee comprised of 42 people.
Also, the 2016 Princeton Workcamp was housed at Logan Junior High School, with Workcampers sleeping on classroom floors, eating in the cafeteria and enjoying programs in the gym. This service to the community would have been impossible without the wonderful cooperation of Tim Smith, Wayne Barr, the Board of Education of Princeton Elementary District, and the terrific support by 13 Princeton Elementary custodial and food services staff, whose wages were reimbursed for that week by Group Cares.
We also want to thank the co-sponsors who along with St. Matthews who gave both financial support and time. The co-sponsors include: Evangelical Covenant Church, First Lutheran Church-Princeton, First Lutheran Church-Ohio, St. John Lutheran Church on the Hill, Christ Community Church, First Presbyterian Church, Princeton Rotary Club, Princeton Jaycees, Carter and Becky Sorenson, Key Builders, and DuPont Pioneer (a donation procured through White Oak Ag now Hefty Seeds.) This is in addition to the in-kind (non-monetary support) from Princeton Elementary District 115 and the City of Princeton.
In all, the Covered Bridge Workcamp was a huge success. From the $32,767.70 raised and donated for Workcamp expenses, and after the additional generous donations and discounts by area businesses that reduced the amount of money actually spent on supplies, there is $10,949.87 in seed money remaining to again bring Workcamp to Princeton and Bureau County in a few years. Those who participated from around the country (many of whom have been to several Workcamps) have told us this was a "premier" camp and one of the best they had ever attended; and they will be watching for when our community hosts another Workcamp! Thanks to all who made this possible, and thanks be to God!
Local, National and Global Outreach
- Another Child Foundation: Another Child Foundation's mission is to reach, teach, and transform the lives of orphaned and at-risk children in Romania. The educating and transformation of children and their families is the top priority in Romania. The impact ACF will have in US communities is the life-changing experiences of those who travel with ACF. The mission trip experience can be a catalyst for people to return home and be a spark that will transform their community.
- Living Works Suicide Walk: Living Works' mission is to embrace affirmation of life in the community by creating awareness and prevention of suicide through enlightenment, education and information.
- Jay Braida Golf Outing: In memory of Jay Braida, an avid golfer and sports fanatic, the mission of this annual event is to help raised funds to support area families currently fighting the battle against Cancer and other life threatening health issues.
- Lutheran World Relief: Affirming God's love for all people, Lutheran World Relief works with Lutherans and partners around the world to end poverty, injustice and human suffering.
- CROP Hunger Walk: CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by religious groups, businesses, schools and others to raise funds to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world.
- Our Table: "Our Table" is a community-outreach meal served by the First United Methodist Church of Princeton for people who may be facing tough financial times or who may simply be lonely and wanting to eat a meal with others.
- Freedom House : Since 1983, Freedom House has provided a safe and free haven for victims of domestic and sexual violence and their children. It serves the residents of Bureau, Henry, Marshall, Putnam, and Stark Counties in Illinois and is supported by public, corporate and private funds.
- Mobile Meals: Mobile Meals Volunteers in Conjunction with Perry Memorial Hospital provides a vital service to those in our community who otherwise might not have access to a nutritious meal.
- Buddy Bags: Buddy Bags is a not-for-profit ecumenical organization working to address childhood hunger. They work to provide area children with snack packs on days when school is not in session.
- Bureau County Food Pantry: The mission of the Food Pantry is to provide emergency food assistance to people who are experiencing emergency circumstances and do not have enough money to meet their basic food needs.
- Solea Water: Solea Water's approach to tackling the global water crisis is two-fold: first, they organize shoe drives, fundraising campaigns and volunteer expeditions with partners, donors and committed volunteers from all over the United States in order to finance projects on the ground in Latin America and the Caribbean. Second, they use these resources to identify holistic solutions for implementing safe, affordable and effective clean-water projects with affected communities.
- Thrivent Action Teams: As a not-for-profit membership organization of Christians, Thrivent Action Teams believe that positive change begins by taking action! It starts with an idea, powered by passion and they ask the question..."Think about an unmet need in your community and how you could help." The Thrivent Action Team program lets you seize the opportunity to make a positive change by taking action.
- Explorers Bible Study: Explorer's Bible Study is a non-denominational, non-profit organization whose purpose is to invite all to a closer walk with God through in depth study of God's Word.
- The Closet - CWU: The Closet, operated by the Church Women United, is a non-profit re-sale and used goods shop which helps raise funds for various local causes.