Back in 2004, we began a city program in Peachtree City called “Community Action Day.” The notion of using the city as a conduit, connecting churches, civic groups and private businesses, to aid residents in need proved to work incredibly well (archive.thecitizen.com/archive/main/archive-040507/news/ptc-08.html).
Funds were raised, materials were donated and volunteer labor was brought in from various groups to repair the houses of senior citizens who could not afford to do it themselves. Landscaping and planting projects were executed on the grounds of our local schools. Our local historic cemeteries were restored.
By the second year of Community Action Day, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of badly needed repairs were performed and the participating organizations were asking if they could come back for year number three. Unfortunately, year three never happened.
The then-new Logsdon administration chose to close the program down, giving the reason that neither the mayor nor any of the council members wanted to devote the time to coordinate the endeavor.
Watching a valuable program, harnessing community funds and volunteers, helping really good people, go down the drain made me very angry. Never before had our city been able to pull churches of various denominations, civic groups, and others together as a single unit tackling large problems.
For a while, I wallowed in bitterness and resentment feeling as though I was the only one who cared. Nonetheless, wearing my irritation on my sleeve faded as I continued to be involved in numerous causes benefitting the community like youth sports, volunteering at the local nursing home, volunteering at the schools, working at the Dog Park and other worthwhile civic programs.
I will admit to you that I gave up on the thought of our community being able to pull together our resources across multiple boundaries and succeeding as a solitary unit again. Please allow me to also admit I was wrong to think such things.
No, Community Action Day is not making a comeback, at least not now. But I have seen evidence that churches in Peachtree City are beginning to commit to a united day of community service in October of this year, showing a willingness to reach out and work together.
In many instances in the past, our churches refused to genuinely work together. Pastors would meet from time to time and there would be an occasional shared service, but no blending of the congregations on a larger, more meaningful scale. Many Christians are unwilling to publicly confess it, but the modern church has become a competitive church.
There are signs that the stranglehold on church isolationism in our community could lessen with this new effort. I can tell you one thing: the rewards are certainly worth it.
There is no greater joy than moving about this city and being able to tell my children how their mother or I helped get something of value to the community accomplished. Even better is the moment of being able to congratulate my children on their efforts of giving to others through service.
If you have an opportunity to encourage your church to drop the walls of separation around it, please do. Remember, there is a reason the Christian church is losing value in the community. Jesus never told the disciples to go out and build nice buildings, remaining in them, and talk to no one.
If you want to get involved in giving to the community, but do not know where to begin, feel free to contact me. Other churches are needed in October, so talk to your pastor about getting involved.
There is no better feeling than reaching out to someone who needs a helping hand. Building personal relationships in your community makes you a better person.
Setting an example of community service for your children will be one of the greatest gifts they will ever receive.
Please do not think about what I have said. Please do something about it.
[Steve Brown is the former mayor of Peachtree City. He can be reached at email@example.com.]