Community service projects are a hallmark of a growing number of religious conferences. “It’s a way to not only reach out and give back to the host city, but also to educate adults and youth on how they can do service in their own communities,” says the Rev. Mary Schaller Blaufuss, United Church of Christ (UCC)Ministries, Cleveland,.
“One important take-away for other religious groups working with volunteers in these service projects is that it’s always best to help local organizations achieve their service goals, rather than to come in as outsiders and try to impose your own ideas,” says Blaufuss, who oversees community service projects for UCC national conferences.
At the UCC’s 2009 General Synod, held in Grand Rapids, Mich., last summer, Blaufuss and her team organized four concurrent community service opportunities that took place from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. the day before the synod’s official opening. Delegates registered ahead of time to participate in one of the activities and paid a $15 fee, which covered the cost of lunch and a T-shirt, plus part of transportation costs.
The four service areas were working on a local Habitat for Humanity project, visiting an area retirement home, building an environmental project for the retirement home, and working in a food pantry. There was also a blood drive.
Read about how the UCC and other religious groups organize service projects at their national meetings in an upcoming article on meetingsnet.com. You’ll learn tips on how to work with local churches, how to solve transportation challenges, and how to integrate the service projects into the fiber of your national conference.