For seventeen years young people have benefited from a summer program offered by the United Methodist Church in Aurora. The church works in partnership with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to provide ministry for 11 to 25 children each session. The program was developed to offer a positive alternative to boredom, vandalism, and loneliness for children who might have little else to do in their small community once school is out.
Teen-aged interns serve as teachers in the program alongside two adults from the church. The interns receive a small stipend, developing their leadership skills and providing income to be set aside for college expenses.
Many of the children who participate in the program are not from church-going families. They benefit from the Bible stories they learn as well as the joy of being together. The interns, too, “grow in their knowledge of the Bible and God’s love as they take an active role in the development of the lessons and activities,” writes Lila Opitz.
The Aurora Summer Youth Program is supported in part with Matthew 25 funds from the Northeast District. Matthew 25 grants are made possible throughout the state from the local United Methodist churches of Iowa.