History of J.O.S.H.U.A.

JOSHUA (Journeys of Service Helping Upper Appalachia) is a work missions project that was established in the summer of 1990.

It began as a dream of several concerned individuals who observed the deteriorating conditions of houses and property in the Steubenville area — Rev. Dennis Orsen from St. John Lutheran Church, Rev. James Humphrey from Toronto First United Methodist, Karen Skinner of Steubenville District UMC, Prof. Matthew McCann from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Sharon Kirtdoll from the Neighborhood Community Development Center, and Dr. J. Roger Skelly-Watts, director of the Urban Mission.   They got together to brainstorm about establishing a Summer experience for youth and adults, who would come from various parts of the country to help make a difference in the living conditions of especially low income people.

What developed was the ministry of JOSHUA.  The Franciscan University of Steubenville became a partner in the ministry by agreeing to provide free housing to the mission work teams. Various local congregations agreed to become host churches, preparing an initial orientation breakfast and a farewell banquet celebration of ministry and friendship.

Numerous adult and youth teams from all over the country have come to participate in JOSHUA over the years. Each team brings their own contribution of money, equipment, materials, and talents to work on their assigned projects.

Homes have been scraped and painted, community parks have been rejuvenated, handicap ramps have been built, and windows replaced. There has been clean up and restoration after flooding, porches repaired, insulation and dry wall installed, and many other accomplishments and projects.

In 1997, the Diocese of Steubenville and St. Anthony’s Parish gave the former St. Anthony’s Convent to the Urban Mission to provide housing for our work teams.  This house has space for groups of 50 people, which includes comfortable sleeping rooms, kitchen, dining room, showers, and restroom facilities.  This opens the opportunities for work teams to come to share in the JOSHUA program year round.

Today we have groups that come from Texas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Delaware and all parts of Ohio.