Written by Whitney Vitt. Media by Aaron Phillips.
Urban Plunge began on Friday, Oct. 23, as 16 Greenville College
students met in Ganton Circle and boarded a bus traveling to St. Louis. Urban Plunge is a weekend trip for students wanting to volunteer in the St. Louis area. This semester, Urban Plunge
went to two locations; Restore Décor in Edwardsville and City Lights in St. Louis.
Source: Shelby Riddle
is an organization a part of the Faith Coalition. They restore old furniture and sell it to sponsor Habitat for Humanity
, as well as help individuals and ministries in their community. At this location, students helped paint pieces of donated furniture. Senior Susanna Bowers
explained how everything in the store was tasteful and something you would “actually want to put in your house.” Bowers loved the redemption in refurbishing the furniture. She said, “I loved that we knew it had not looked that good when it came in, but now it was beautiful and useful.” The students learned how the organization started, what it has done in the past, and how they could get involved.
Students then went to City Lights
, which is a branch of Restore St. Louis
and is a part of the New City Fellowship Church
. City Lights brings in groups of volunteers to work around the city. The ministry’s goal is to assist with racial reconciliation and poorer areas around St. Louis. On Saturday, students split into three groups to serve the people of St. Louis by working on projects, such as building a wheelchair ramp for a widow, cleaning a garage out, and repairing flooring. Senior Shelby Riddle
knew building relationships with the people was the most important part in serving. Riddle stated, “City Lights taught us to be present and love people who are disadvantaged or discriminated against. James 1:27 says,‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.’ I believe it is our purpose in life, as Christians, to defend those who are disadvantaged in this life.”
After serving the City Lights organization, GC students took a tour of locations that have had a significant impact in the history of St.Louis’ civil rights movement. These locations included the Arch, Fairgrounds Park, Pruitt-Igoe, and Ferguson.
Later, students enjoyed a cultural dinner at The Vine
, a Lebanese restaurant, and ended the night watching the movie Good Lie
, a Sudanese refugee movie.
Source: City Lights Church
Vice President of Student Outreach on GCSA Kellie Steele organized, planned, and executed the events for Urban Plunge. On the last day, students attended church at New City Fellowship. In reference to the service, Stelle said, “We were able to experience a church that is completely invested in their community and reaching out to the poor, the oppressed, and the immigrant.” The sermon was offered in English, French and Spanish to better connect with the congregation. Bowers favorite part of the sermon was Communion. Bowers stated, “Everyone left their seats and lined up in a circle around the room. Then, they started passing the tray of bread and juice around. I noticed not everyone was taking both the bread and the juice and I realized they seemed to not have enough of everything to go around. It was really humbling to see the way they made sure everyone got some part of the symbol of Communion. This reminded me it doesn’t matter what things you eat or drink in Communion; it’s a tangible symbol of the work of Christ and that’s what needs to really be the focus.”
Source: Shelby Riddle
Urban Plunge is an opportunity for students to see what others are experiencing and find ways to help. Steele explained, “This weekend showed me a side of the city I was not familiar with, even after experiencing two Urban Plunges in the past. I was aware of the poor population and the homeless population in St. Louis, but I had no idea of how evident the dividers are in neighborhoods and services throughout the city. I also had no idea of the large immigrant and refugee population in the city as well. Through opening my eyes to these things, I have become aware of problems that need to be addressed and how I can get plugged into doing my small part to finding a resolution.” Keep an eye out for the next Urban Plunge trip because you won’t want to miss it!