CUSE in the times of COVID-19

By: Christy Orman and Marcia Quintanilla

CUSE, Cathedral Urban Service Experience, provides opportunities to serve people who are being denied justice, peace, and dignity by their community. Christ Church Cathedral in the center of downtown Houston provides the perfect home base for groups of youth and adults wishing to experience the unique challenges and blessings of inner-city service.

We have been serving in Houston year-round for over 10 years. We knew the pandemic would change how we operated. By the end of April, we realized hard decisions would have to be made, and our in-person mission trips would have to take a significant shift. We walked into unmarked territory. A virtual mission trip: How could this even be possible? How could we possibly serve our neighbor while being physically distant? Would it work?

This summer, we made what seemed impossible into a reality! The last week of June, Cathedral Youth, along with youth from St. James’,Austin, came together for Virtual CUSE. During this three-day mission trip experience, we were able to meet leaders from New Hope Housing, The Beacon, and Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston and serve in distinct ways.

Day one, we met with Sarah Mangrem from New Hope Housing and made keyring holders with words of encouragement and keychains for new residents. Day two, we met with Victoria Fong from The Beacon and made masks made from T-shirts and greeting cards for Beacon clients to send to their families and friends. Day three, we met with Melissa Collins from Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston and called and sang Happy Birthday to Meals On Wheels clients and made birthday cards.

What we discovered from our experience is that God calls us to serve in different and unexpected ways. Whether we were making a keyring holder for someone receiving his first home after several years of being homeless, making cards for those who can’t afford to purchase a greeting card for a loved one, or singing a good ol’ fashioned Happy Birthday to a 93-year-old, we were serving our neighbors. As we continue to live out this pandemic, how will you respond to God’s call to serve his people?

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