We went to church this morning at Maranatha Baptist in Plains along with a fair contingent of Covenant Partner representatives, who wrapped up their annual conference here last night. President Carter taught the Sunday School class (as he has done every Sunday he could since he was 18 years old—that’s just a year shy of 70 years of teaching). The church was packed—in addition to us there was a large group from Mercer University, who were in town to work with the Americus-Sumter County Fuller Center, and a couple of Boy Scout troops. A good day for Maranatha!
The Covenant Partner conference was a great event. Some 80 representatives of 21 covenant partners (including Armenia!) and three prospectives spent Friday and Saturday learning new skills and techniques, sharing stories and successes with one another, and bolstering all of our spirits. For those of us who spend too much of our time behind desks it was inspirational to be with those who make this ministry happen. While I know that our work here in Americus serves to build the ministry we are a little separated from the actual building and rehabilitating of houses, so spending time with those who are in the trenches is a true blessing.
We had some outstanding presentations at the conference. Ronnie McBrayer gave valuable insights into working with churches, the Foundation Center’s Val Porter gave two powerful presentations on grants, Bill Allen taught fund raising—a never over/never out issue for us all, Connie Bryant shared Wells Fargo’s Hands on Banking financial literacy program and Jeri Bush taught a session on volunteer development. We had two long-time friends with us, Shelley Ryan Gray and Lynn Bryan come over from Shreveport to share the Community Renewal model, something that has made our Allendale project so much more than simple house building.
Among all of the guest presenters we sprinkled a good number of our own folks—Charlie Park from Minden and Gohar Palyan from Armenia along with FCH staffers Brenda Barton, Ryan Iafigliola, Beverly Black, and Chris Johnson all gave stellar performances. Looking back I don’t know how we managed to stuff so much sharing into so little time.
The Covenant Partner reps were the stars of the show, though. Volunteers all, they gave of their time and resources to travel here and share of their true-life experiences. Homeowners Thad Harris from here and Virginia Williams from Hammond, Louisiana, gave moving accounts of the effect The Fuller Center has had on their lives.
It makes me proud to be a part of an organization that attracts such outstanding people as those we spent this weekend with. The good Lord has surely blessed the Fuller Center with this fine group of saints.