Youths from Seminole shovel dirt at Oklahoma City's Central Park Community Garden, as part of OCU's Youth Service Day.
Young people can make a difference. That message resonated in a number of ways during Youth Service Day, held March 5 on the Oklahoma City University campus.
More than 175 youths and adults, from 15 churches, gathered for a day of service, fun, and food.
This year, starting time for the annual event was moved to Saturday morning, to accommodate church groups coming from farther distances. They engaged in service projects at 14 community organizations and churches. This ranged from garden work at Epworth Villa to neighborhood cleanup with Mustard Seed Community Development Group.
The day included campus tours, an information session with OCU Admissions Counselor Christina Mallory, and games. Bishop’s Scholars and other OCU student volunteers provided leadership.
The day closed with worship in the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel. OCU students Nathan Oney and Kristia Ford led praise songs. Jennifer Long, director of Religious Life, presided at the service of Holy Communion.
OCU welcomed Linda Harker, Muskogee District superintendent, as guest preacher. Her message, titled "Shout the Gospel! It Really Matters!," challenged all to make deeper commitments to their faith and to live that out in their actions. The benediction, based on a prayer of St. Francis, continued that emphasis:
"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
"May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
"May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
"And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done."
Bishop’s Scholar Alyssa Wardwell, a Religious Life intern, coordinated the event for the Wesley Center at OCU.
"It is a wonderful thing to see youth give of their time to serve the community," she said. "It was also great to have so many student volunteers to lead the groups and have one-on-one interaction with the youth."