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Boston Urban Outreach



Boston Urban Outreach


Resource Type: Experiential learning opportunity


Main Audience: Church groups interested in a hands-on experience of urban ministry, exposing them to inner-city needs and offering opportunities for reflection


Sponsor Organization: City Mission Society

Program: Boston Urban Outreach

Dates:  Contact the program director, Carl McDonald, to arrange a date for your group

Location: Boston, MA


Day-long program: $20/participant

One night program: $45/participant

Weekend program: $75/participant

Week long mission trips: $300/participant


Contact:   Carl McDonald,




Boston Urban Outreach Project (BUO) is a customized immersion experience for groups of youth and adults (typically from suburban congregations).  Groups vary in size from about 6 people to 35.  Optimal size groups consist of 20-25 participants.  Formerly know as the Boston Common Ground experience, this program has brought over 400 participants to Boston to participate in service projects in under-served communities.  Daylong, one night, weekend, and extended stay programs are available.  Each experience is customized to each individual group. 


Each participating group decides on a topic along with the program coordinator.  Criminal justice, AIDS, homelessness, and elder issues are just a few of the topics that have been addressed in the past.  Each learning experience varies depending on the length of the project, but all projects incorporate service projects based on the group’s chosen topic.  Speakers are often invited to share their first-hand experiences with participants as well. 


A local inner city church hosts the participants and provides the group’s lodging. Host churches are also involved in planning the projects and participating in the service project portion of the learning experience; thus suburban and urban Christians are working side by side.  Each program is customized to the individual group participating in order to enhance the church’s ministry experience.  Topics are often chosen based on pre-existing ministries that are already in place at participating churches, or ministries that participating churches wish to start at their home church.  Service opportunities range greatly depending on the topic and length of the program, but may include projects such as: planting or harvesting a community garden, preparing and providing meals for the homeless, painting and performing maintenance at a shelter or church, sorting food in a pantry or food bank, working with preschool children on an art project, assisting with games at and elder care facility, sorting clothing donations, or packing books to mail to people in prison. 


Each project concludes with a time of guided reflection for the participants.  This portion of the project provides a time and space for participants to talk about what they have observed and experienced.  Often, participants will stay to attend worship services at their host church on Sunday. 


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