In celebration of the International Day of the Girl-Child, we are delighted to share a reflection by Christy Stang, a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, MN. She is the youth representative on her parish’s vestry and the founder of the Trinity Girls’ Service Group. She is a passionate advocate for girls and a strong believer in the importance of mission service.
Since today is the International Day of the Girl, I would like to emphasize the power of the church in raising young women to serve others by sharing a story in which my own parish supported me. When I was twelve years old, I was hunting for an outlet into which I could plug my passion for service. My congregation, Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, was engaged in many outreach programs, but it had not launched a group which offered consistently available and diverse service opportunities—so I decided to initiate one myself. In 2008, with my church’s support, I founded the Trinity Girls’ Service Group, a team of about ten girls who are mostly upper elementary and middle school age, which still meets monthly to decide on and execute plans for being God’s hands in the world.
Having been part of the group for the past five years, I am continually impressed by the sincere willingness to serve that emanates from these girls. You can see their eyes light up during discussions about what project we will tackle next, and they excitedly jump in with their own original ideas. We particularly like doing hands-on service because the impact is more tangible. Our projects have been as local as cooking meals for parishioners who are ill or fashioning ornaments to decorate Christmas trees for families in need in our town, and as global as using the profits from a bake sale to buy a community garden in Nicaragua through Episcopal Relief & Development or packing meals to feed starving children around the world. In my eyes, the most profound positive result of the Trinity Girls’ Service Group has been how much the girls inspire those around them. The warmth of the Holy Spirit is palpable as they spread their joy and energy.
Since we live in a world that is buzzing with activity, the main challenge of the group has been planning service projects that fit into each girl’s busy schedule. But even when not all of us can attend every event, our vision is not clouded by discouragement in our seemingly small efforts to ease the world’s ocean of suffering. The Trinity Girls understand that each act of kindness counts, whether we have enough time to spend an afternoon raking yards or creating personalized welcome baskets for a refugee family from Somalia, or just to squeeze in a few minutes after church to craft a cheerful card for a parishioner who is struggling. Although we cannot completely extinguish global suffering, I am heartened to know that we can honor God by eliminating even just a few of the shadows in our dark world. The buoyancy of the girls leads them to brighten their surroundings with smiles, in hopes that their efforts will lead to a more luminous society.
In honor of the International Day of the Girl, let us all support the young women in our communities, encouraging these earth-shakers to further envelop the lives of others with light. Members of the world’s younger generation should not be restricted to making their mark only in the future when they become the pillars of society—they can shape the world today. Genuine passion for world change is contagious, especially when incited by bright-eyed girls who are eager to follow God’s call. When young women unite against the forces of deprivation in the world, their impact is dazzling.
Today we give special thanks for the girls and young women across The Episcopal Church who seek and serve Christ in their daily life and work.