Tag Archives: serve

Preparing for Summer Staff by Shelle Merryman

shellee blogIt’s April and I’m preparing for my third summer on staff. My third summer, I don’t know when that happened. I never even thought I would be on staff for one summer, let alone three. In 2007 I answered God’s call to join my church on this crazy new adventure (new to my church and me). I came to Mountain T.O.P. for the first of five times that summer, and have been involved in the ministry some way every year since.  In the fall of 2011, I continued to hear God calling me to spend the next summer doing His work on the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee. I was a freshman at the University of Tennessee, eight hours away from where I grew up in South Lyon, Michigan. So I was used to being in new situations. Used to not being ‘comfortable’ and going beyond my comfort zone. As I heard his call, I questioned if it was right (because we all like to think He can be wrong). I wasn’t questioning Him because I didn’t want to do something new, but because I never felt like I could do a good enough job. I ended up applying and eventually being accepted to be a Ministry Coordinator. I spent my first spring semester as a college student preparing for what I thought was going to be an amazing summer filled of love, God, and campers (and this didn’t disappoint!)! But I also thought I was going to change so many people’s lives but boy was I wrong: instead, every county person, camper, and fellow staff member I encountered changed mine.

shellee blog1The unbelievable experience I had as a Ministry Coordinator (MC) was completely due to my staff, my campers, and the county people. The job of a MC is nothing like what I expected. I knew it was going to be hard work, but I didn’t know that would include the amount of paper work, driving, and late nights that were experienced, but I wouldn’t change one minute of that entire summer. Even if I was running around pretending like I knew what I was doing when I had no clue and solving issues that I didn’t even know existed, I wouldn’t have wanted to be doing anything different. Of course there were times I questioned what I was doing; why I was okay with the minimal amount of sleep, okay with being so far from civilization, okay with the crazy requirements of my job, but then you experience all of those rewarding moments. Giving a message to your favorite camp community, having an amazing YRG build a porch for one of your favorite county people, laughing with your staff at anything and everything that is said, those are the moments when you know the reason you’re there. Where else in the world is it socially acceptable to act like an airplane driving down a windy road? It’s not easy to ALWAYS be 100% yourself, but it is on the Mountain. Where else can you be crying one moment and the next be laughing so hard you’re crying for a completely different reason? Praying the way my staff prayed instantly puts a smile on my face just to think about. All of these experiences showed me what it’s like to truly be immersed in faith and servant-hood, but it doesn’t end there.

shellee blog2God knew all of these amazing experiences meant more to me than I could say, so he convinced me to return last summer as a field manager. I knew it was going to be hard work, I knew that I wouldn’t have the same experience I had as an MC, but I also knew that my love for the county people could not be compared to a love I had for anyone or anything else. Simply put, I would do ANYTHING for these people. I love them like my family, so I knew I had to come back as a field manager, to serve them again. The hard work that came with this job was more than I imagined. The limited amount of sleep and amount of work I had didn’t compare to another job on the mountain, but once again, I wouldn’t wish for one of the moments all summer to be changed. My staff helped shape who I am, and the work in the field put a smile on my face all of the time. Even with a different role as the summer before, I knew that I belonged on my specific staff doing my job and look back and see why I was placed there by God, doing His work.

shellee blog3As I said at the beginning, I’m now preparing for my third summer on staff. I have the amazing opportunity to return to the mountain as a YSM Director. I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity! Once again I’ll have a role that is not even close to one I’ve had in the past, but I get to do God’s work in a different role. Being a director requires me to lead my staff, to have a successful staff and camp weeks and I couldn’t be happier to have this responsibility placed on my shoulders. With God guiding me along the way, I know that He will help my staff and me be successful and lead us to do His work. Even if we’re not anywhere close to civilization, even if I have the hardest job I’ve ever had, even if I don’t get nearly enough sleep every night, I know that I’m doing His work and fulfilling him. I’m fulfilling Him, so he is fulfilling me in return. I get to do His work and there is no place I would rather be. I love having the opportunity to live on a mountain top and I wouldn’t ask for anything else.

God is good, all the time and all the time, God is good. He called me to the mountain in 2007 with a servant heart, and has fulfilled that heart experience after experience.

Something Special, Why We keep coming to MTOP: by Chad and Angela Cooper

I’ve been going to MTN TOP for 11years, and each time I go I leave a little piece of my heart in Grundy County.

Chad and Angela Cooper

MTN TOP allows me the opportunity to partner with families in the area to reach a common goal- whether that goal is  an addition to their home, or renovation of their current living conditions. The relationships I’ve been able to develop with my families are invaluable. Not only does MTN TOP enable me to meet their physical needs, but to assess and meet their spiritual and emotional needs as well. The families of Grundy County are determined, hard working, humble,  and have always responded with such an attitude of thankfulness that overwhelms me.  It is truly a privilege to work with them and build those relationships.

Speaking of relationships, Ive made friends through this ministry that I know I’ll have for eternity— from staff to fellow campers across the U.S.  We may begin the experience as strangers , but we leave as family.

There’s something so special about a group of strangers separated by so much—age, gender, geography, experience, and a million other factors—-coming together for a common goal: to improve the lives of the people in Grundy County all in our Savior’s name.   As a RN, construction work is way out of my comfort zone. That’s when I know I have to fully rely on God for the results. It’s amazing what He can do with someone with few skills, but a willing heart.

MTN TOP is more than a ministry or a place. It’s an attitude of serving, caring, and giving to others that I can practice there and also when I’m back at home in my everyday life.

                                                                                                                                                                           Angela Cooper

I’ve been going to MTN TOP for 8 years . Every year I come home thinking that is was the best trip I’ve ever been on, and then the next time is even better!

I’ve had some construction experience before coming to the Mountain, but it’s been amazing to see how a team can come together and accomplish what we do in just 2 days. The last few years, I’ve been asked to be a point person- this is just the person who oversees the project. I’ve learned so much from this ministry that back home I’ve stepped up and done some work on my own.

MTN TOP has opened many doors for me. I did my first devotion at MTN TOP. I really enjoy coming back every year to see what God has in store for me  and what things I’ll learn. I’ve gained many friends from the Mountain and have shared God with people on my different teams.  It’s so amazing to see the family’s faces on Saturday when we leave, that the little work that we do makes their life  easier.

I hope MTN TOP will be here for a long time and continue to help others.

Chad Cooper

Hooked: Thoughts from Returning Summer Staffer, Emma Couch.



I’ve been participating in Mountain T.O.P.’s ministry in some capacity since the summer of 2009. Last year, I felt strongly that God was calling me to spend my summer doing His work as a summer staffer. As I was finishing up my sophomore year at Ohio State, and preparing for a summer spent in Tennessee, I had a lot of ideas about what my experience was going to be like. A summer spent in paradise, where I was the hero, changing people’s lives and making some awesome new friends. What I found was that I was completely wrong; once my summer was complete, I found that my life was instead the one that had been changed, by the people I encountered, and the unbelievable, all-encompassing love I experienced.

Those of you who have been on summer staff will understand me when I say that our job is HARD. While I had expected a happy-go-lucky, super relaxing job, half the time I was a Ministry Coordinator, I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to fix this problem or solve that issue.  Sometimes I became frustrated, sometimes I wondered why on earth I would have chosen to spend my summer in a place whose closest Wal-Mart was 40 minutes away, and sometimes I thought that maybe I should just go home. But then came the quiet moments, whether it be during a staff worship during precamp, or a daybreak on a worksite, or quiet moment with a family at a project. In those moments, I realized that Mountain T.O.P. was an unbelievably important place, and that I was lucky enough to get to experience that crazy thing we call staff life, seeing God in everything I encountered.

263335_10152866676135707_1682585318_nThis summer, I get the opportunity to return for my second year on staff, as a YSM Program Manager. I’ll be taking on a much different role than I did last summer, and I have a lot of nerves about my abilities, the experience itself, and what the summer is going to look like. I had my doubts about applying for my second year, as I’m getting ready to go into my senior year of college, but after a lot of prayer, and some gentle nudging from God, I realized that my heart wouldn’t be satisfied until I returned to the mountain to continue His work. I already know that my job will be hard, and sometimes I’ll be sad there’s no Wal-Mart, but if I learned anything from my staff experience last summer, I know that every moment of stress will be worth it, because there is absolutely nothing better than being able to live (and work) on a mountain top.

YSM Week 7, 2014

Mountain T.O.P. is pleased to announce that the following church groups will serve at YSM in 2014.

Allen FUMC – Allen, TX
St Thomas Episcopal – Terrace Park, OH
Woodbury Peaceful Grove UMC – Woodbury, MN
Godfrey FUMC – Godfrey, IL
Carrollton FUMC – Carrolton, GA
Redeemer Lutheran – Succasunna, NJ
Marquette FUMC – Marquette, MI
Centenary UMC – McComb, MS
Rayne Memorial UMC – New Orleans, LA
Williamsburg First Presbyterian – Williamsburg, IA
St Paul’s Episcopal – Franklin, TN
Riverside UMC – Columbia, TN

YSM Week 6, 2014

Mountain T.O.P. is pleased to announce that the following church groups will serve at YSM in 2014.

Armada/West Berlin UMCs – Armada, MI
South Lyon FUMC – South Lyon, MI
Lakeside Fellowship – Sanford, FL
East Heights UMC – Wichita, KS
Decatur FUMC – Decatur, TX
St Luke’s UMC – Dubuque, IA
Walnut Hill UMC – Dallas, TX
City Road Chapel UMC – Madison, TN
Greenland Hills UMC – Dallas, TX
Rocky River UMC – Rocky River, OH
Springfield UMC – Springfield, VA
Covenant UMC – Cordova, TN
The Barnes Academy – Hartwell, GA
Metropolitan UMC – Detroit, MI

YSM Week 5, 2014

Week 5
Mountain T.O.P. is pleased to announce that the following church groups will serve at YSM in 2014.

Speedway UMC – Speedway, IN
Cannon UMC – Snellville, GA
Christ UMC – Franklin, TN
Greensburg UMC – Green, OH
Kent UMC – Kent, OH
Saline FUMC – Saline, MI
Redeemer Episcopal – Cincinnati, OH
Grace Church of the Nazarene – Columbia, TN
Hopewell Reformed – Hopewell Junction, NY
McMinnville FUMC – McMinnville, TN
Whippany First Presbyterian – Whipany, NJ

YSM Week 3, 2014

Mountain T.O.P. is pleased to announce that the following church groups will serve at YSM in 2014.

Jerome UMC – Plain City, OH
Collierville UMC – Collierville, TN
Calvary UMC – Brownsburg, IN
Hillcrest UMC – Nashville, TN
Winchester FUMC – Winchester, IN
St Thomas Episcopal – Terrace Park, OH
St Luke’s Presbyterian – Dunwoody, GA
Trinity Luntheran – State College, PA
New Liberty Congregational Christian – Lynn, MI
Oregon UMC – Oregon, IL
St Paul’s Episcopal – Dayton, OH
Tullahoma FUMC – Tullahoma, TN
West Lafayette FUMC & Purdue Wesley Foundation – West Lafayette, IN

YSM Week 2, 2014

Mountain T.O.P. is pleased to announce that the following church groups will serve at YSM  in 2014.

Bethany UMC – Austin, TX
Germantown UMC – Germantown, TN
Christ Church Cathedral – Cincinnati, OH
Little River UMC – Woodstock, GA
Christ UMC – Greenfiled, WI
St Paul’s UMC – State College, PA
St John’s UMC – Winter Haven, FL
Christ UMC – East Moline, IL
Calera FUMC – Calera, AL