Presbytery prepares for
first ever Great Day of Service
By Edward Terry, The Layman , July 28, 2009
Presbyterians in the Houston area are going to trade in their business agendas for work gloves, demonstrating Christian charity in their own communities.
Rather than hold its regularly-scheduled meeting, congregations in New Covenant Presbytery will spend the day reaching out to their respective communities. The first ever Great Day of Service will be Aug. 1 and at least half the presbytery’s congregations are lined-up to participate.
As part of the event, Presbyterians will spend the day stocking food bank shelves, repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Ike, hosting community health fairs and other service activities.
The Rev. Mike Cole, general presbyter for New Covenant, isn’t aware of any previous event like it. He’s very excited about the impact it could have.
“I’m amazed at the range of service projects,” he said. “It’s a way for Presbyterians to be actively engaged in service beyond writing checks and serving on boards.”
Depending on how many from each congregation join the effort, there could be hundreds, maybe even thousands, pitching in to make a difference in their communities. Not only is that a powerful statement about the love of Jesus Christ, it also has the potential to spread within the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Cole said the presbytery has alerted the Office of General Assembly about the idea, which was originally conceived by New Covenant Moderator Wayne Eberly. Cole has already issued an official challenge to New Covenant’s sister presbyteries to connect with their communities in a similar way.
“I would love to see other presbyteries pick this up and do it in their own way,” he said. “The more mission minded we become, the stronger we become.”
Though the presbytery is organizing the effort, the heavy lifting is in the hands of the individual congregations. The presbytery is, however, suggesting projects, keeping track of who’s doing what and maintaining a record on its Web site.
The August meeting was chosen so that the work day would occur on a weekend before school starts. From idea to action, The Great Day of Service and Celebration took six to eight months to organize, Cole said.
Though some might wonder if skipping a meeting could be a burden on the day-to-day operation of the presbytery, Cole doesn’t. The most pressing need, the presbytery’s new budget, was approved at a meeting in July and everything else can be taken care of at the next meeting, he said.
Of course the most important work of all is The Great Commission, and getting outside the walls of the church to help the needy goes a long way in that call to service.
“It has really touched a nerve,” Cole said. “Folks have really gotten creative in how they choose to serve.”
Expanding the “day” of service into a whole weekend, Pines Presbyterian Church in Houston, will conduct a worship service in the late afternoon. The event will allow its participants to share stories from Saturday as well as meet people from other congregations. Worship will be led by a combined choir of local churches.
For more information about the Great Day of Service, visit the Day of Service Web site at www.adayofservice.org or call (713) 526-2585.