Niner United groups serve, grow

Puerto Rico Mission

Fifty-one students from UNC Charlotte’s Lutheran campus ministry, Niner United, traveled to Puerto Rico in March 2019 to help with rebuilding efforts from Hurricane Maria. While we were there, we focused on the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of the communities we partnered with. The students served, grew in the faith, and built on their leadership capacities. While staying at a Lutheran camp, we divided the team of fifty-one into four work groups. During the day the groups split up and worked on houses in the San Juan metropolitan area that were damaged by the hurricane. In the evenings we coordinated group activities and challenges between the four groups. Our UNC Charlotte spring break trip coincided with Ash Wednesday. A group of twenty-six students worshipped at Grace Lutheran and a group of twenty-five worshipped at San Juan Baptista Episcopal. The entire group also spent several hours in Old San Juan and had an official tour of the capitol building. At our closing worship service, several students noted that this trip helped them with discerning their calls into ordained ministry.

Holy Land Pilgrimage

Pastor Steve Cheyney led twenty-six UNC Charlotte students, alumni, staff, and faculty to Israel and Palestine for a nine day pilgrimage in late May and early June of 2019.While there, we explored the historical footsteps of Jesus along with the complex socio-ethical implications of the Israel-Palestinian conflict today. Many of our students remarked that this was a trip-of-a-lifetime experience for them. Each participant reaffirmed their baptismal covenant in the Jordan, and everyone gained a richerappreciation for the complexity of life in the modern-day Holy Land. Pastor Steve wrote a journal for each participant that is now available online (Cheyney, Stephen R. Follow In His Footsteps: A Holy Land Pilgrimage Journal. The trip served as a true spiritual pilgrimage that indeed challenged the students to consider God’s call on their life. Some of these students, in fact will for sure enter seminary, and such a trip will serve to be very valuable for their theological education.