ORLANDO – A house can be painted in a day when volunteers show up in full force.
That’s what members of Peace UMC discovered last month when they designated a weekend for a “We Serve” event and painted the house of a church member in need.
A significant share of the congregation turned out to help with projects that benefited their church and surrounding community.
Eddie Pipkin, assistant to the pastor at Peace, said the effort was inspired by the East Central District’s annual “Sunday Serve” event. Churchgoers across the district fan out on a designated weekend each fall to tackle service projects identified in their communities.
For the Peace UMC spring event, groups from the church were encouraged to choose and participate in community projects on either Saturday or Sunday, Pipkin said. About 70 people turned out for six projects.
The service weekend coincided with and was tied to worship services based on hospitality.
“We asked people to let us know if there were particular passions that we could connect with and bring more people aboard to bring those to life,” Pipkin said.
“A lady member of the church was a social worker and knew residents (at an Orlando apartment complex) who had no visitors at all and no outside resources, being of lower income. Because of this, she was passionate about their need and was able to get a group together in that project.”
The project helped seniors in the Salvation Army’s William and Catherine Booth Towers in downtown Orlando. The church volunteers mopped, swept, dusted and vacuumed 10 apartments and visited with the residents.
Another project included collecting 10 bags of trash by hiking and kayaking along Shingle Creek. Another resulted in a crew painting a house of a church member in a day.
“A crew had the job done on Saturday,” Pipkin said. “We had budgeted two days and hoped we could get it done in one day. Ten people started at 8 a.m., and different shifts worked during the day. Another group provided the lunch for those painting. The painters were done by 4:30 p.m. We (the church) covered the paint cost.”
Two other volunteer groups went to two different sites, an assisted living facility and a nursing home. Fourth- and fifth-graders entertained the residents of an assisted living center in Hunter’s Creek, while another group sponsored a day of bingo and games at the nursing home. Volunteers also took books and materials to the residents and spent time socializing with them.
Still another group, made up of middle school youth, participated in a church beautification project.
“They did some pretty intensive landscaping work around the church campus,” Pipkin said. “We like to work with the children in the church, as they can get used to serving when they are young and then serve in Christ as they get older.”
Church members tried to be entrepreneurial in their approach to community service, he said.
“Our service in the community is a big part of what we are called to do as disciples,” Pipkin said.
“We are always looking for new ways to offer people opportunities to live that out. If people know of a need and bring it forward, and if it is in alliance to the vision of the church, we try to make it happen.”
– Brenda Eggert Brader is a freelance writer based in Winter Haven.