For the second year in a row, groups of Grove City College students are serving rural and small town churches in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia as part of mission trips sponsored by The Project on Rural Ministry (PRM).
PRM is a Lilly Endowment-funded initiative of the College that is intended to aid ministers serving congregations in Appalachia, the rust belt, and rural communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. It facilitates cooperation between college, church, and community by partnering with pastors who serve in rural and small town contexts.
In a moving report published on PRM’s blog this week, Mikayla Gainor, a junior majoring in Psychology and Biblical and Religious Studies, detailed the work that these students are doing over spring break and their mission: “To glorify God by learning from and serving local rural pastors with mutual encouragement in the faith.”
“The PRM ICO trips have a unique emphasis on learning and serving, and their impact is for both college students and churches. For students, these trips offer a chance to experience God in a new way and grow deeply. They encounter people from various backgrounds, and they get to see the different ways in which a believer can live out his or her faith. They are exposed to new ministries and have an opportunity to both learn about and be challenged by different denominations or cultural contexts. By serving in new capacities alongside fellow students, they form deeper relationships outside the classroom. Their experiences have the potential to create long-lasting life changes that start with their immediate circles when they return to campus,” Gainor writes.
“Of course, it's not just the students who benefit. Churches and pastors stand to gain from interactions with students as well. One beautiful aspect of this ministry is the way it connects GCC students to local churches where relationships can be further developed. The churches also benefit from having fellow believers come alongside them to support them in their long-term goals and offer new resources to their ministry. In some cases, the energy and impact the students bring can help revitalize certain church functions. Last year a church reinstated its prayer meeting following their interactions with students.”
To read Gainor’s full report, visit the Project on Rural Ministry at ruralministry.org.