Dozens of General Synod delegates and visitors left the relative comforts of the convention hall and committee rooms to serve the people of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Two Habitat for Humanity projects, a local assisted living facility and an outreach ministry received some extra hands Monday to build, paint, plant and serve.
"This makes me feel good that I am brightening someone's day," said Mariah Prescott, a member of Maple Street Congregational UCC in Boston. Prescott was volunteering at Pilgrim Retirement Community. While working on a quilted banner at Pilgrim, she met a woman in Michigan who visited the Maple Street Church. "It is interesting how you can be a part of this church and feel connected to someone you have not met."
Alison Worsham of Danville, Calif., was an adult chaperone at the Dawes Street Habitat site. While her crew was cleaning up construction debris, they had worked on framing at the other Habitat site a few days previous. "That was a unique experience" for a construction amateur, but she was "very excited to be doing a service project."
Jake Schmittling from Mascoutah, Ill., was at Dawes Street with Worsham's crew. Working with his father, he acquired building experience and was part of a team that checked the roof construction and firewall installation. "It's great to see everyone working together as one," he said.
In addition to making a banner, the volunteers at the Pilgrim Retirement Community played Wii bowling with residents and mended a garden designed to filter runoff rain water. The crew also planted a tree commemorated the Synod Service Day. Pilgrim resident Zolo Graves made a connection with Julia Goodall from Fort Wayne, Ind. Graves was "excited" to have Synod volunteers at Pilgrim and to welcome the UCC to Grand Rapids, saying, "We wanted you to learn all about our Pilgrim Manor."
George Heartwell, a UCC minister and the community CEO and Mayor of Grand Rapids - what he called his "other job" - said he was glad to have the Synod volunteers visit the community. "We thank you for your immersion in service," he said.