These are exciting times for ASP! With the turn of the calendar to a brand new year, Appalachia Service Project looks forward to exciting, life-changing ministry throughout Central Appalachia.
This year’s ASP theme—Call(ed) to Action—is an expression of purpose, service, and invitation to participate in God’s ongoing work in the world and reflects this summer’s theme verse:
Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’”
God sends out the call, and God’s people are the called. It is part of our Christian calling to stand with those who are hurting and struggling. We are called to speak on behalf of those who do not have a voice. We are called to serve all people—“right where they are, just the way they are.”
Speaking of God’s call in our lives, God has called a Pastor Dean Smith to be part of the ASP team as our new Director of Spiritual Programs. He comes to us by way of Owatonna, Minnesota where he served for 15 years as their Children, Youth, and Families Pastor. Dean has been in youth ministry for more than 25 years as a volunteer, a youth director, and as an ordained Lutheran pastor, so he brings a great deal of “real-life” ministry experience to this position. In the past 15 years, he’s brought almost 200 volunteers on ASP service trips (2 trips to Mingo County, West Virginia and 2 trips to Logan County, West Virginia). He knows something about planning youth ministry trips and experiences! Originally from Northern Virginia and Southeast Michigan, he attended Wittenberg University and Luther Seminary, He then went on to be an ordained ELCA pastor in 2001, serving congregations in Palos Heights, Illinois, and most recently, Owatonna, Minnesota. He joins the ASP team with his lovely wife and 3 children, as well as over 33 years of softball experience (we will be bringing him on as our resident ringer this season).
He’s been working hard to develop meaningful, practical resources around this theme, and we at ASP believe he will be a great asset to our commitment to transformational ministry for all participants in our ministry. Please join us in welcoming Dean warmly to ASP, and get excited about all that he will bring to our ministry, and feel free to give him a call or drop him an email to welcome him or if you have questions about the content of ASP’s curriculum or are looking for suggestions as you plan your ASP experience.
Appalachia Service Project is celebrating 50 years of answering the call to serve among the people of Central Appalachia with humility and enthusiasm in the same way that Isaiah answered the call from God to serve in his time and place. We are excited to see how God continues to call us into our future together.