WESTFIELD, NJ — The First Congregational Church of Westfield recently welcomed home the participants in its annual mission trip, a week of volunteerism and fellowship that has become a summer tradition. 

Over 30 church representatives, including middle and senior high students, friends, clergy members and chaperones, traveled to Chicago from July 26 to Aug. 1 to work with Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection (DOOR), a faith-based organization that stresses local immersion while working with inner-city communities. 

Under the guidance of DOOR representatives from the First Church of the Brethren, the volunteers took public transportation to work sites throughout the city, including community parks and gardens, an adult day care center, a food distribution warehouse, and a city-run Safe Haven program for youth. The students also learned about the challenges of living in South Chicago through speakers and activities. After their work week, the group enjoyed a day of Chicago sightseeing.   

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The FCC contingent of 23 youth and 11 adults was led by Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea, FCC senior minister; Rev. Joy Mounts, associate minister; and Joe Regan, assistant music director. Student representatives included Samantha Gorman, Laurel and Joey Elkin, and Dylan Voltz of Fanwood; Michael Bonnell, Ani Hsu Obrock, Elizabeth and William Rehwinkel, Isaac and Taylor Scott, and Kate and Maggie Traina of Scotch Plains. Chaperones included Cindy and Kelsey Boyea, Geoff Marino, Anna Rehwinkel, Denise Schifando, Katharine Shirley, Jodi Traina and Debra Volz.  

The First Congregational Church's previous mission trips have included sites in New Orleans, Ohio, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Wyoming, San Antonio, and Vermont. Fundraisers held throughout the year, including a tag sale, pancake breakfast, and spaghetti supper and talent show, help underwrite the cost of travel.

First Congregational Church, a member of the United Church of Christ, is located at 125 Elmer Street in Westfield. For more information on youth group and outreach opportunities, contact 908-233-2494 or visit fccofwestfield.org.