Photo: Demeric Flores (left) and Eli Samuel Rivera Bonilla prepare for the summer children’s program at Iglesia Menonita Faro de Salvación in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Flores participated in Mennonite Central Committee’s Summer Service program, a leadership development program where young adults of color serve their local communities through churches or related organizations. (MCC Photo/Rolando Flores)
Demeric Flores, an accounting and finance student at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, wanted to be a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Summer Service worker for years.
This past summer, he got his chance.
Flores was one of 40 young adults, ages 18-30, who served in the U.S. this year through Summer Service, a leadership development program where young adults of color serve their local communities through churches or related organizations.
Summer Service workers serve in a variety of roles. Some are pastoral interns or immigration educators. Others work in urban gardens or with community development projects to make a difference in their communities.
Flores, 20, served at his home congregation, Iglesia Menonita Faro de Salvación, a member of the Convención de las Iglesias Evangélicas Menonitas de Puerto Rico.
The congregation, located in Ponce, has participated in Summer Service for years. Growing up, Flores admired the leadership role Summer Service workers took in the congregation and looked forward to the day when he could contribute to his church in this way.
Flores worked at the two children’s programs his congregation organizes each summer. One meets at the church; the second is in nearby Salinas, where Faro de Salvación leaders partnered with members of the town’s migrant community to start a new congregation.
His responsibilities included teaching Anabaptist history and leading a peacebuilding class that helps students address bullying. Drawing on the skills he’s learning in college, Flores also helped manage finances for the children’s programs.
Flores said he enjoyed the opportunity to gain leadership skills while giving back to his church community and hopes to pursue additional service opportunities in the future. “Maybe someday I’ll serve with MCC’s Serving and Learning Together program,” he said.
Danilo Sanchez, Summer Service national coordinator for MCC U.S., said at least five new partner organizations and churches participated in the program this summer. “More and more churches of color are becoming aware of this program and taking the opportunity to invest in their young adults,” said Sanchez. “It’s exciting.”
For more information about how your congregation or organization can partner with MCC’s Summer Service program in 2016, visit mcc.org/summerservice.