December 16, 2018

Williston church group lends a hand in St. Croix

Observer courtesy photo
Members of Christ Memorial Church in Williston help with hurricane relief on the Caribbean Island of St. Croix last week.

Seventy-five members of Christ Memorial Church in Williston spent the school break on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, helping church-goers there recover from last fall’s devastating hurricane season.

In the span of two weeks last fall, two Category 5 hurricanes — Irma and Maria — pounded the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean communities. Five months later, churches on St. Croix remained without functional roofs, according to Christ Memorial’s executive minister Greg Burton, one of the trip leaders.

The group was comprised of 30 church youth — high-school students from Champlain Valley Union and Essex High — and 45 adults. They gathered at the church in the early morning hours Feb. 23 to load buses and start their trip to the island.

They spent several days fixing and painting the roofs of two churches and a school building, Burton said.

“The recovery has been slow,” he said. “It’s almost a third-world country.”

Christ Memorial congregants have experience on similar international trips that combine service work and an evangelical mission. The church sponsors a mission trip each year with every third year being an international trip.

Manual labor is always involved, as is holding evangelical meetings and distributing evangelical literature. The trips serve not only to spread the church’s message, but also to edify the youth and adults who make the trip, Burton said.

“I think they gain an appreciation for what they have, for people in different parts of the world — that we are all the same — and an appreciation for working and serving,” he said.

— Jason Starr

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