Wearing “baptismal blue” T-shirts, a crew of 100 Wayne Zion Lutheran Church members set out to perform cleanups and other tasks at various Jones County sites on Sunday, Sept. 30.
“I could not have been more pleased,” said Ellery Dykeman, pastor at Wayne Zion Lutheran. “We really wanted to take seriously how God calls us to participate in His work through using our hands.”
The event, called “Service 4 Service,” was an offshoot of the church’s high school group, which attended the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) National Youth Gathering in New Orleans this past summer.
The students’ stories about the New Orleans trip inspired the church’s adults, some of whom had already been talking about doing more outside the walls of the church, Dykeman said. Thus, an idea was born.
“Our worship committee made some calls to various people in Jones County telling them what we were thinking of doing, and asking if they had any work or projects we could help them with,” Dykeman said. “We received positive and excited responses from everyone we called.”
One group went to Riverside Gardens to weed the gardens and clear out the trails around the pond.
Another worked on landscaping and planting at the Monticello Aquatic Center.
Still another was at Central Park, pulling up an old fence.
A fourth group went to Wapsipinicon State Park and cleaned up litter along the roadways and riverbanks.
Finally, a group stayed back at the church to stuff envelopes with tickets for its annual, upcoming Harvest Festival (Oct. 17), and to prepare a lunch for everyone.
“Our congregation responded in amazing ways and really stepped up to show our community that we are called by God to serve our neighbor,” the pastor said.
‘The hardest part was getting all the logistics lined up and making sure we had leaders and equipment to complete all the tasks.”
Members of all ages participated, taking advantage of a comfortable, sunny fall morning.
“One kid came up to me at Riverside Gardens, and said, ‘I thought there was no way we were ever going to be able to clear out the jungle path around the pond, but we did!’ ” Dykeman recalled. “One other kid said, ‘I wish church was always this much fun.’
Article written by Pete Temple, Monticello Express Sports Writer