About 200 people were standing in the parking lot at Statesboro High School recently, braving the first fall cool snap and waiting for directions from a man with a bullhorn.
Excitement was in the autumn air as Brandon Bulmer, discipleship and missions director at Connection Church, organized and formed teams of the crowd.
The small bands of church members then fanned out across the Bulloch County community to carry out 26 service projects for groups or individuals in need.
“We want to be obedient to scripture,” Bulmer said. “To help the widows and orphans and those in need.”
It was the second year Connection Church took on such a large project of good works. “Altogether, we put in about 900 hours on (Oct. 1) in small ‘Connect Groups.’ The goal of our groups is to learn the Word, to serve others, and to ‘do life’ together. And we do that by coming together as a church to serve our community.”
Children as young as first grade through adults of all ages assisted and completed projects for Statesboro Summit Apartments; Ordered Steps, a home for young girls in need; Joseph’s Home for Boys; Baptist Campus Ministry and Wesley Foundation on GSU’s campus; Fostering Bulloch, Son’s Light, and Choices of the Heart; Statesboro High and Southeast Bulloch Middle Schools, as well as a couple of personal home renovation projects. Church member Sean Fox helped replace an entire roof for a Register woman in her 80s.
“Her roof needed repairing desperately,” Fox said. “We worked from morning until almost 8 at night to get the job done. It was an incredible feeling to be able to bless someone, to put a roof on someone’s house, and to know it was not just a fix, but it’s a roof that will last. She was such a sweet lady and very appreciative.”
Katelyn Stephens, a GSU graduate student and leader of middle school girls at Connection Church, spent the day sorting and organizing clothes for Foster Bulloch with her teammates.
Stephens said, “This was a tangible example for the girls to be able to serve others.” Stephens said the girls were visibly touched, with one middle schooler pointing out that she doesn’t even think twice about going to her closet to choose an outfit, when many of the kids they were serving have nothing to choose from.
Elementary-aged children joined hands and hearts to serve as well. First- through fifth-graders visited residents at Gentilly Gardens, then split into two groups, with one group meeting foster kids at Mill Creek to play and the other group journeying to a couple’s home to do much-needed yard work and some gardening. Stephanie Shirley, one of the adult helpers, was amazed at the children’s attitude.
“The kids were so excited to work in the yard. They were asking, ‘What can I do next? What can my job be? Can I be the waterer? I love to play in the dirt!’”
Seven-year-old Jordan Fennell, who proudly announced, “But I’m about to be 8,” said, “I’m glad we went to Gentilly Gardens to do crafts and play Bingo, because it made them happy when we spent time with them.” With a smile, he added, “But the best part was playing with the foster kids. We played kickball and played on the playground with them.”
Wesley Foundation campus minister Carl Blackburn greatly appreciated the help his organization received.
“Our chapel, built in 1998, had gotten kind of weather-beaten,” he said. “Some of our kids partnered with Connection to pressure wash and clean the outside of the building, as well as complete some yard work. Some great hearts came out to serve.”
Don Baldwin, another participant and church member, summed up the day’s activities: “We get so much out of doing the work, maybe even more than the recipients do. It was just a blessed day to be the hands and feet of Christ.”