Why are we serving?
In 2009, the ELCA Youth Gathering invited congregations to a post-Katrina New Orleans. This reality significantly changed the structure of the event, moving it from a “stadium experience” to an intentional community of service. The feedback from congregations regarding this change was overwhelmingly positive. The Gathering became a missional experience, one that modeled the ELCA’s theology of accompaniment and invited youth (and adults) to think critically about service and their capacity to make a difference.
DAYLE will be working with a local New Orleans group to learn about homelessness, particularly among youth, in the area. Homelessness has more thandoubledsince 2005, and many people struggle to provide basic hygiene and personal care items for themselves and/or their families. After learning about the issue, DAYLE participants will work with local leaders to package kits for individuals or families with young children in transitional housing programs. Personal care kits are tailored to meet the needs of specific populations dealing with housing and income issues. All kits are distributed through local nonprofits that run temporary housing programs.
How do we understand service?
For Lutherans, an understanding of service begins with an understanding of vocation. The word vocation is derived from the Latin word vocation, which means “to call or summon.” Lutherans believe that when we help our neighbors and not only share, but show the love of Christ, we are living out our vocations. DAYLE will help participants to uncover their vocation through the act of service and consider how God might be calling them to serve in their home communities.
In addition to the centrality of vocation, the ELCA has a particular framework for understanding missional engagement that is termed a “Theology of Accompaniment”. We believe that God is already present and active in the communities we serve. As we enter the city of New Orleans, we understand that we are on holy ground and view our time of service as an exchange. We walk together on this journey, learning from one another and celebrating the gifts that God has given each of us to transform our communities.
What is service learning?
Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. DAYLE is incorporating this understanding into its service-learning project. Participants will engage in the following ways:
1. LEARNING - The project includes learning component that introduces participants to the organization, effort and experience.
2. SERVING - Participants serve through hands-on opportunity to meet local leaders and build personal care kits.
3. REFLECTING - DAYLE participants will be given time to debrief their experience and uncover how God was and is active.
4. DISCOVERING - DAYLE participants will take time to discern how God is calling them to use this experience in their home context.
5. CELEBRATING - Participants will come together after the project to celebrate what has been done, what has been learned and lift up a new reality.