Published on March 20th, 2017 |0
PRUMC expects 1,000 volunteers March 25 for 25th annual Great Day of Service
The Great Day of Service is PRUMC’s annual community volunteer day and this year will be celebrating more than 28,000 volunteers of all ages who have supported the service traditions spanning a quarter of a century.
Each year during Lent nearly 1,000 church members and friends give a designated Saturday to make helping others in need a priority. The Great Day of Service is PRUMC’s largest annual outreach event marking the church’s biggest impact on the community.
“It is truly a great day of sharing our time and talents with the charitable agencies Peachtree Road United Methodist Church supports,” said Beth Spencer, director of local outreach and volunteer service for PRUMC, now working on her 20th Great Day of Service.
“We are inspired by the words of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism: 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’,” Spencer said.
The church welcomes all congregants, interested non-members and neighbors to join Great Day of Service volunteer teams as they tackle projects such as landscaping, tree planting, gutter cleaning, painting, home or park renovations, and an array of other tasks, followed by a celebratory barbecue picnic.
Akin to the annual Hands On Atlanta Day in October, PRUMC’s Great Day of Service includes volunteer individuals, couples, families, retirees, corporate teams and anyone who feels inspired to instill hope for the hopeless while sharing in PRUMC’s commitment to put faith into action.
A diverse list of partner organizations have projects large and small this year, including work for volunteers set to visit the Agape Youth Center in Riverside, Covenant House in Atlanta’s Westside area, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Hollis Innovation Academy in Vine City, the Police Athletic League in Brookview Heights, and New Hope AME Church in Buckhead.
By the big day this year, about 36 projects serving 27 agencies may be confirmed. This year’s Great Day also includes construction and cleanup work at the church’s 46th Habitat for Humanity home. And some service projects involve exercise in the form of softball, baseball or other games with PRUMC teams engaging a community youth group in play.
The day will begin at 8 a.m. with breakfast and a communion service before the volunteers fan out through the city to tackle 35 projects. The day concludes with a barbecue.
To view the full list of community projects – currently with more than 22 partner locations – or for volunteer registration, visit www.prumc.org/greatday or call the church at 404-266-2373.
The Great Day of Service began at PRUMC as an idea from Rev. Vickie Smith, then a member and volunteer who went on to become an ordained minister in North Georgia. At a church in Alabama, Smith’s brother participated in a similar day of service, and Vickie was inspired to replicate and expand upon the idea.
In step with Smith’s inspiration, PRUMC’s Disciple Bible Study Group was expanding work related to their lessons in “going out into the world and doing good.” While the church also contributed financially to several community partners, there was a general sense that the church could also contribute through service.
“The combination of these factors led to the creation of the Great Day of Service in 1992,” said Spencer. “We harnessed the spirit of Lent, encouraging members and friends to sacrifice what they’d normally be doing on a typical spring Saturday. We asked them to contribute that day so they could change their lives and the lives of others.”
Megan Stephenson, who has been volunteering for the Great Day of Service for 10 years, said she participates because she enjoys the fellowship she has with the other volunteers as well as the
numerous projects she has worked on in that time.
“I have always enjoyed volunteering and working with others on projects, but the feeling you get when you finish a badly needed project and then see the results and how grateful the people you have helped are, it makes the work very enjoyable and, for me, personally enriching,” Stephenson said.
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Working side by side with her fellow parishioners on projects, Stephenson said she enjoys talking with the other volunteers while working on projects and said that is one of the highlights of that day for her.
“There is no better feeling that working together on a project for someone else while working with someone you know who you are your friends with and are fellow parishioners,” she said. “It is that fellowship, and knowing you are spreading God’s love through the community, that is my greatest joy during the Great Day of Service.”
Smith’s original plans estimated up to 100 volunteers might register that first year. More than 500 answered the call to serve. In the years that followed, annual volunteer participation surged as high as 2,000 before settling in at an average of 1,100 volunteers. About 28,000 volunteer registrations were completed from 1992 to present.
The number of community partners also varied during the event’s first quarter-century, with as few as 15 projects and as many as 90 activities depending on the number of projects for which each participating partner requested assistance.
The Great Day of Service is somewhat unique to PRUMC in its size and scope, and in recent years the church developed a starter kit – including a template for an electronic volunteer database and a workbook of event checklists and suggestions for success – to help other churches across the U.S. start their own service days. The national United Methodist Church Annual Conference now includes a similar day of service annually, inspired by the PRUMC model.
“The Great Day of Service is the backbone of the Local Outreach Ministry at PRUMC,” said Spencer. “Many charitable agencies became permanent PRUMC partner agencies after participating in the Great Day, and church members discovered great friendships working together on projects.