More than 1,000 volunteers are expected to join Peachtree Road United Methodist Church’s Great Day of Service on March 25.
“For us, the Great Day of Service is the introduction to service,” said Rev. Bill Britt, the senior minister at the church at 3180 Peachtree Road, which is marking its 25th year of serving the community. “They come on this one day of the year, and it inspires them to get involved in other ways throughout the year.”
More than 25 organizations will join in, along with members of the congregation and the community.
The event provides volunteers for 39 projects that focus on children, the impoverished, health and education. It is timed to coincide with the Christian observance of Lent, a period of fasting, penance and self-reflection leading up to Easter.
“As Christians, we are called to go out and serve,” said Beth Spencer, the director of local outreach and volunteer service. “We are a fortunate church and financially blessed as a congregation. It’s our moral duty to help our brothers and sisters in our city to help improve their quality of life.”
The day begins with communion and breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by service projects across the city. It ends with a barbecue in the afternoon.
In celebration of the 25th year, PRUMC will recognize those who have volunteered since 1992. Church leaders have invited back the two women who thought up the idea in 1992: Rev. Vickie Smith, originally a church member who has since became ordained, and Melanie Johnson. In the first year, Smith thought 100 congregants would participate. Instead, 500 showed to donate their time and energy.
“In the early years it was meant to get us pew-sitters into service as true disciples,” said Claire Bowen, a longtime volunteer and human resources consultant. ““It has had a ripple effect of people who want to be involved in service since.”
The Great Day of Service also allows for the church to interact with different partners in the community and help those who are less fortunate, Spencer said.
“Over the years, it becomes something you don’t want to miss,” Bowen said. “The camaraderie and feeling you get after you get in your car, knowing you made a difference, is something I look forward to. “
Spencer said that the event is inspired by the words of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who said, “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can … As long as you ever can.”
“During Lent we often times are asked to give something up, or take something on … so we ask them to take time out of their busy lives to give back to their community, even if it’s just for an hour,” Spencer said.
Projects include volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, New Hope AME church, Covenant House, Police Athletic League and The Agape center. Volunteers will have a chance this year to work at two new sites: Urban Recipe, a food co-op in Grant Park where volunteers will help ready a garden for planting; and The Hollis Innovation STEM Academy, a school in its first year that PRUMC helped launch where volunteers will help work in a garden and on stage sets for the school’s upcoming musical production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
“Worship and outreach is the heartbeat of our church,” Britt said. “It is the very life of everything we do. Otherwise, we just become insulated and would think only of ourselves.”
To view the full list of community or for volunteer registration, visit prumc.org/greatday or call the church at 404-266-2373.