Mission Trip 2013 -
Tom's River, NJ Disaster Relief
April 24 - 27

St. Luke's UCC will be partnering with The First Presbyterian Church of Hamilton Square, NJ. Our team is currently 8 and we can go up to 12 or possibly 16 volunteers. We are "Team NJ" (a relief organization).

Planning meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 2nd in the school house.

Mission Trip 2010 -
Disaster Relief in Douglasville, Georgia
April 5 - 11

We are small, but we are strong in faith.

Once again, St. Luke's will join hands with our United Methodist partners to help with disaster relief. When trying to describe our work in disaster relief one member put it very well ? it is much like the work of Habitat for Humanity. We build and/or rebuild. We clean, paint, hang sheetrock, insulate. You name it, we do it. And one of the beautiful things is that even if you have never done it before, it is on the job training. Everybody works. Everybody prays.

This year, we travel to Douglasville, Georgia to help a family rebuild their home taken in the 2009 flood. A local church in Douglasville will supply our meals and lodging (they supply cots) for a very nominal fee. We fly from PA to Georgia. This trip, we will be trying something new ? as plans unfold we will update a bulletin board in the schoolhouse.

Every mission trip includes ALL of St. Luke's members and this trip is no exception. This year we were able to supply a full scholarship for a faithful mission worker and supplement other workers' traveling expenses. Your gifts to mission work make this possible.

Anyone interested in joining this trip or being a prayer partner please contact Betz Schwalm. Upon our return, the Mission team will be presenting the trip to the congregation so that we can share our experiences with you.

Urban Mission 2010 Update

Our Urban Mission work camp dates did not work out this year. Old first is having some technical difficulties with scheduling. They are doing their best to re-organize and we will plan again for 2011. All donated items will be delivered during our Saturday cupboard trips, which is the third Saturday of each month. We welcome anyone who would like to join us. The sign-up sheet is located on the bulletin board in the annex. We will keep the men at the shelter in our prayers.

Luke 3:10-11

And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none..."

Imagine sleeping under a bridge in this winter weather. Our homeless deal with that reality every day.

So...once again St. Luke's will serve. January will find us busy with preparations for Urban Mission Philadelphia. With Cindy Overbeck organizing this year, this will be priority in upcoming mission meetings as the pieces come together. We meet the 2nd and 4th Sundays after church. Feel free to join us.

Dawn Blessing has begun the collection of long johns. Keep your eyes open for good sales in hopes that we can once again give each man at the shelter one full set of long johns. If you find a deal and it is not in your budget to make the purchase, please let Dawn know.

We are aiming for a weekend in February / March. The overnight group leaves for the mission Friday evening. It isn't too late to join in the overnight camp experience ? please call LeeAnn Hissim. We will look forward to our work-campers joining us in a worship service and sharing their experiences.

The Saturday night meal is again being organized by Kathy Bahnck and will be prepared at the Ottsville Fire House starting at 11am and be transported to the mission around 4pm.

Remember - Urban Mission is for everyone. From supplying a pair of warm socks, to helping with the meal. From including the homeless in your prayers to going to the work camp. Urban Mission at St. Luke's has become a high point of our mission year.

As soon as we have a firm date we will pass the word. Any questions or ideas please contact Cindy Overbeck.

  • Urban Mission Organizer - Cindy Overback
  • Work-Camp - LeeAnn Hissim
  • Long John Collection - Dawn Blessing
  • Meal Preparation - Kathy Bahnck

Together in Faith,

Betz Schwalm

Gulfport Mission 2009

Pass the word! Are you interested in learning more about St. Lukes' next mission trip to the Gulfport area to help rebuild the homes and lives of the folks devastated by storms or disabilities? Looking forward to participating February/March 2009? Or maybe you don't know what it's about and just want more info. If so, let us know - tentative lists are starting. Contact Betz Schwalm at contact@saintlukesucc.org or 610-847-2633. And help pass the word so everyone gets the news.

Dear Friends and Members of St. Luke?s,

I?d like to share with you some stories about the recent mission trip to Biloxi/Gulfport Mississippi that Betz Schwalm and I took part in. We were ?adopted? by the folks from Frieden?s U.C.C. in Sumneytown who have a great bunch of talented folks that have been going down there to work at the Back Bay Mission camp.

Back Bay Mission, a U.C.C. program, has been in Biloxi for over 75 years. I remember hearing about kids going there when I was in high school! Of course, in those days, most of the work involved just picking up a paintbrush or roller and sprucing things up. Since Katrina, Back Bays mission has changed about as dramatically as the landscape.

In fact, the camp itself was just about completely devastated by the wall of water that crashed through this part of the world. There is a wonderful DVD that is available that documents much of the tragedy. I was expecting things to look practically like they did 2 years ago, but in some ways the Gulfport and Biloxi communities look somewhat normal. Closer to New Orleans you see those blue?tarped roofs, but not much near Back Bay.

When you get just a little below the surface you see the damage and suffering that have yet to be addressed. One home I worked in for example, Miss Nettie, had some siding ripped off on the outside, but inside her house, there was mold in the attic insulation and water damage to most of the living room. She was taking care of her grandchildren and they were breathing in unhealthy air in that room.

Several other homeowners where teams worked were physically disabled (Back Bays criteria to get on their list for help is low income, elderly or disabled). I heard numerous stories of people struggling physically, after being exposed to whatever substances were mixed in with the floodwaters, in which people swam and were nearly drowned.

And then there are the issues of the political process post-Katrina. Gulfport and Biloxi may look fairly healthy, however, there are still issues of economic disparity. It?s interesting to note that the casinos were the first to be rebuilt. There is clearly at least some money for low-income housing, but there is insufficient political will to overcome the ?not in my backyard? mentality that continues to cripple the most vulnerable members of the Mississippi Gulf Coast ?those who remain hidden in poverty. Katrina didn?t cause that problem, but Back Bay is trying to advocate for everyone in their region, to overcome those powerful obstacles, that in some ways are more devastating than a hurricane.

Back Bay has been in their home for over 75 years and they continue to serve the homeless, feed the hungry, and preach Good News to the poor. My experience there was heartwarming and humbling. I hope to be able to return there and I hope that you will consider making the trip, too. It?s well worth it.

God Bless,

Pastor Tom