First Congregational Church was again host for the ninth running of the AMAZING GRACE this past Sunday, April 3. 11 teams of youth from 9 Southwestern Wisconsin Churches completed challenges and followed clues on a race to the finish. The winning team gets a traveling trophy and the top two teams have prize money sent to the charity of their choice. 
A team from Madison Christian Community finished first and chose to support Haiti Allies, an organization which works to help empower Haitians to better their lives and country through education, meal programs, adult literacy, and job creation. First Cong Youth came in second, playing for UNICEF. Other participating churches included: Mount Zion Baptist, St Dunstan's Episcopal, West Middleton Lutheran, Norway Grove Memorial Lutheran, Lake Edge UCC, Lake Edge Lutheran, and Washington Reformation UCC in Monticello. One of the teams from Washington Reformation took home the 'Shepherd Award' for best exemplifying Jesus-like behavior.
The AMAZING GRACE is intended to be; a fun gathering for youth from around the area, an opportunity for mission, and a chance to learn a few things along the way. The theme for this year's GRACE was the Liturgical Year, meaning the challenges were connected to different holy days on the church calendar. Examples of this included: pounding large nails into a timber for Good Friday, blowing up red balloons for Pentecost, and a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey for Palm Sunday. Teams also searched for matching Christmas cards, counted Epiphany stars, and built Advent wreaths. The high point of the day sent one member of each team searching for their next clue from the vantage point of the First Cong roof to reinforce Jesus' temptation during Lent. The GRACE took teams not only to various points around the First Cong building, but also to the Healing House, Middleton Community UCC, Walnut Grove Park, West Towne Mall, and the Habitat ReStore on Odana Rd. 
This event could not have happened without a small army of volunteers to proctor challenges, hand out clues and prepare the meal. Thank you to the following for making this event possible: Marsha Hall, Margaret Strass, Minna Ketcham, Hank Whipple, Jim Baumann, Laura Crow, Joanne & Bob Lenburg, Laura & Hunter Stephenson, Eldonna Hazen, Ann Beaty, Kim Freeman, Jeanne Marshall, Jen Streit, Cathy Noth, Carlyn & Aiden Noth-Hazen, Ron & Diana Shaw, Mike & Gloria Green, Mari McCarty, and Paul Karch. A special thank you goes out to Linda Ketcham & Kim Fisher for driving our team on the journey. Thanks also goes out to the Ace Hardware stores of Hilldale and Allen Boulevard for donating hammers.
First Cong team member Dana Parker sums up the experience from the youth perspective:
The Amazing Grace was a very interesting experience for me, mostly because I had never done anything like it. At the beginning, it was very clear to me that I did not know what I had signed up for. My team had some challenges during the Easter basket challenge, and the two people who did the challenge felt sick for most of the time. But my team also ended up coming in second place, so I guess we didn't do too bad. But overall I had a great time and I can't wait for next year.
                                              ~ Jeff Rabe

Posted on April 5, 2016 at 9:55 am in Featured Content.

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