On Sunday, a Fuller Center Covenant Partner, Americus-Sumter County Fuller Center, hosted a project for a church participating in Faith in Action Sunday.
Sunday morning, while many people dressed up to attend their regular morning worship services, nearly 80 members of Cornerstone Church in Americus, Ga. put on their painting gear and headed out into the cool, overcast day.
About 30 of them stood on Anita Lyles’ lawn—some shivering, but all ready to begin siding her home.
Lyles had tears in her eyes throughout the morning, touched to have so many people willing to help her. She remembered acting similarly when she made the last payment on her house in 2005.
“I cried for joy for days,” she said.
About a block down the road, on South Hampton Street, another 45 or so volunteers were painting the home of Julia Tyner. Tyner, three of her sons, her sister, Shawnetta, and two nephews came out to help as well.
Tyner couldn’t afford to fix up her home after her husband left a few years ago. The paint applied Sunday is a visible step toward making her home more livable. Next the Americus-Sumter Fuller Center will replace windows, insulate, and fix roofing on her home. And that’s good news for her sons.
“It’s a lot of stress off of me, which means a lot of stress off of them,” Tyner said, smiling. And it’s good news for their friends and other neighborhood children, who often migrate to the Tyner household.
“Any time I can give kids somewhere to go besides the streets, that’s a good thing,” Tyner said.
The nearly 80 volunteers came as a part of Faith in Action Sunday, a national campaign encouraging churches to shut their doors on a Sunday morning in order to serve the community. “Don’t go to church, be the church,” is Faith in Action’s slogan.
Derek Vreeland, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Americus, heard about the campaign online and found the Fuller Center in the list of partnering organizations. He called up Kirk Lyman-Barner, who heads up the Americus FCH’s board, and they agreed to work together.
Some members of Cornerstone, like Lisa Higley of Americus, weren’t so sure about canceling church at first. But Vreeland’s series of sermons leading up to Sunday’s “living sermon” helped convince them.
Sunday was the right time, Higley concluded. “You’ve got people there already. You’ve got more hands.” People are suffering, she said. And if it takes doing it on a Sunday to help them, it’s worth it.
"We could do it on a Saturday,” Vreeland said. But this, he said, “communicates to our church the importance of serving, by canceling all normal activities to forget about ourselves and see what others need.”
“It makes a lot more sense to be seen in action, than to be seen in a building,” Martha Shields, a Cornerstone volunteer, said.
“We tend to equate church with the building,” Vreeland said. He hopes the day of service together helped recast the church as “something that we are.”
After the two projects were finished Sunday, the volunteers gathered with the homeowners and their families for a short worship service.
The next Faith in Action Sunday falls on a Sunday that’s easy to remember: Oct. 10, 2010, or 10-10-10.
Lyman-Barner hopes churches around the nation will choose to take part with their local Fuller Center Covenant Partner.
“We’ll help them find a project, they don’t even have to wait until next October,” Lyman-Barner said.
Get your congregation or local covenant partner involved! Visit the Fuller Center’s Faith Builders Page to learn more. You can find the Fuller Center’s listing on the Faith in Action Web site here. Or, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
"This is the greatest illustrated sermon I have ever preached"
–Cornerstone Pastor Derek Vreeland