After studying community development in university, Jim Cheng wanted to take what he had learned into his own community and see what it meant there. That’s what led Jim to spend this summer working in his church and community through MCC’s Summerbridge program.
To me, this is community development—getting to know the people who surround the church, getting to know their names and their stories.”
Community is a big part of Summerbridge. When Cheng reflects on his time with the program serving at Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg this summer, he says: “To me, this is community development—getting to know the people who surround the church, getting to know their names and their stories.”
Cheng says that he was interested in serving at Home Street because the people are “very intentional about serving and really being a part of community.” Cheng’s education at Canadian Mennonite University taught him the value of community and gave him an interest in the pursuing its development. Putting his studies into action made sense for Cheng and Summerbridge became an outlet for him to do just that.
Each participant gets to make a proposal along with their church that uses their skills and fits the needs of their particular community."
Summerbridge is unique in that it allows participants to work with their church to propose their own project and then see it through to completion. With this approach, young people can pursue their own interests. Kendelle Fawcett, MCC’s Summerbridge Program Coordinator, finds the charm of the program in its “flexibility for communities to define what is important to them.”
“Each participant gets to make a proposal along with their church that uses their skills and fits the needs of their particular community, both the church and the wider community,” Fawcett says. “It is a valuable opportunity for young adults to develop leadership skills.”
Going to church’ is not just about me..."
Cheng was able to use his skills in photography, teaching and handiwork in his service this summer. He planned events, worked at a food bank, tutored a high school student and painted the church library, among other tasks. The most valuable part of his experience? Cheng says he has learned the importance of serving in the church and that work in ministry encompasses “everything!”
For Cheng, it was a surprise to find that he enjoys working in ministry more than he thought he would. He hopes to continue to be actively involved in the church after his formal work at Home Street ends, reflecting that “‘going to church’ is not just about me, it is also about others—those you serve, those who serve you, and those whom you serve with.”
Finding community and building personal connections at Home Street were the most valuable parts of the experience for Cheng. This summer Cheng was able to apply himself and his skills and expand his understanding of ministry. For Cheng, the church will never again be just a building and because of Summerbridge, his faith will continue to motivate him to serve.
Find out more about Summerbridge and how you—or your church—can get involved: