A local church has come together to send a bit of warmth to a distant community.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Douglassville held a winter clothing collection in November and early December for the Lakota people of North Dakota.
As a part of a recent mission trip, Rev. Gregory Frey of St. Paul’s became involved in the program Re-Member: Volunteer Organization on Pine Ridge Reservation.
“The goal is to build connections people native and non-native peoples,” said Frey. “There are a number of churches in the area that have participated in the program.”
The church goes on a mission trip every year, alternating between distant locations and ones closer to home. This year, the group chose to visit the Pine Ridge Reservation.
“We went in the middle of September which is just about the end of their season. In October they shut down for the winter.” Frey explained how part of his interest in going was due to the fact that he knew nothing about indigenous lifestyle or what life on a reservation looks like. “This was an entirely new thing for me.”
The group of fifteen from two congregations, St. Paul’s and Trinity Lutheran of Bechtelsville, spent a week in North Dakota. Frey explained how, on the reservation, services such a fire department or garbage collector. During the visit, the group helped to put skirting on trailers for the winter; they also built bunk beds and outhouses.
“It kind of did what we hoped – it forms a connection. Through this, it gives people an opportunity to utilize that connection in order to reach out to these folks in a meaningful way.”
He spoke the poverty-level conditions on the Pine Ridge reservation and how the Re-Member program helps with various needs.
“One of the things they desperately need is winter clothing. Things wear out,” said Frey. “It gets super-hot in summer, and then once it gets cold – it gets really cold.”
The church shipped several boxes of school supplies in the fall and has just sent a shipment of winter gear in hopes of offering some relief to the Lakota people during the winter months.
“It’s really important to, as much as possible, try to have face to face encounters, which is why it’s important for people to go out there. The idea is to keep them in mind.”
Organizers at the church hope this effort will inspire others to get involved.