Baptists and Mormons Join to Serve Catholic Charity Camp
By Lucy Schouten, Church News staff writer, and Rick Doane, Church News contributor
The weeds of a New England beach met their match June 29 in a brigade of Baptists and Mormons.
Baptists, Latter-day Saints, and their neighbors came together on the south shore of Massachusetts in the spirit of true religion to clean up a Catholic Charities camp for at-risk youth.
“I’ve lived on this street for over 40 years,” said Diane Mahoney, who lives down the street from the camp. “We used to know when the kids from the camp were going to the beach because we could hear them singing as they walked to the shore. Now the campers can enjoy this wonderful park again, along with my grandkids.”
Sunset Point Camp has served at-risk and low-income youth from nearby Boston for 95 years. In recent years it has needed more than a yearly touch-up, as beach access had been lost to overgrown trees and bushes.
“We have never had enough manpower to do a restoration of the park,” said Beth Chambers, executive director of Catholic Charities in Boston, which owns the camp. “We have just been able to do a basic cleanup each year.”
Carol Coppins, Relief Society president of the Hingham Ward, Hingham Massachusetts Stake, lives down the street from the camp. She contacted her neighbor Ellie Dahl of the South Shore Baptist Church to suggest that they plan an interfaith service project.
“This was a great opportunity to join together with those of other faiths and live the Christian philosophy of serving our neighbors,” Sister Coppins said. The group of roughly 100 volunteers restored a play area, trimmed hedges, and cleared debris. They enjoyed meeting their neighbors of other faiths while they pulled weeds and chopped down trees.
“This event exceeded all of our expectations,” Sister Coppins said. “There is no better way to get to know someone than by yielding loppers side by side at a community park.”
Ellie Dahl agreed. “This place looks amazing,” she said. “It is so great to see all of these religions working together for the greater good, helping our community.”
The harmony of the project found a parallel in the weather, which, despite a gray morning and a forecast for rain, yielded to sunshine while the volunteers worked.
The group had barely finished before residents began arriving to take advantage of the newly discovered seaside path for dog-walking and jogging. When the work was done, the victorious volunteers of all faiths headed down to the newly cleared beach for a barbecue.