UNION — The collaborative, week-long effort known as “The Jerusalem Project ” concluded its third-annual local event on Friday.
More than 200 volunteers — a group ranging in age from rising 7th graders to high school seniors as well as several college students and adult volunteers from 11 churches within the county — spent Monday-Thursday mornings working on 17 projects throughout the county. Work included building wheelchair ramps, replacing porches, painting and yard work.
In the afternoons, project participants volunteered at 13 project sites such as Union County Pregnancy Center, Union County Council on Aging, Ellen Sagar Nursing Home, Oakmont of Union, Union County YMCA, Union County Recreation Department, Union County Carnegie Library and others. Groups rotate service at these locations, with each group experiencing social ministry, creative ministry and children’s ministry. The social ministry included organizing items at Council on Aging and various clothes closets and food pantries. Creative ministry involves group members visiting with residents at local nursing homes, talking with them, singing and playing games. Children’s ministry involves work at the Union County Recreation Department, Union County YMCA and the Union County Carnegie Library Summer Reading Program.
In the evenings, the groups came together for dinner at Jonesville Baptist Church, with meals provided by a different church each night. Then, participants attended a worship service at Oakbrook Community Church each night.
Alison Coker, a leader with the Jerusalem Project, discussed the positive feedback received from homeowners who have had the work done. She said an elderly man has thoroughly enjoyed the company of the volunteers, wearing an ear-to-ear grin each day.
Coker said the group has repaired the home of one elderly family who lost their insurance and will be able to regain it after work completed by volunteers.
“Even as tired as we are on Saturday, in my mind, it’s such a rewarding week be a part of and to watch how God works and moves through Union County from homeowners, to senior citizens, to youth, all the way down to children,” Coker said.
Coker said the facilities at which volunteers worked in the afternoons have also been grateful. Coker also said Dollar General donated waters for the project, which were a great benefit, and Paradise Home Center continues to be great to work with on a daily basis. Coker also pointed out that David Blanton, Director of Missions, supports all parts of the project.
“In the three years he’s been here, he’s been a crew chief, helped at all sites, and other things like picking kids up from football practice so their parents wouldn’t have to,” Coker said.
The name “The Jerusalem Project ” came from Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
“That’s what we do, we work together to put on this mission project here, just to help ‘our Jerusalem’ in Union,” Coker said, explaining that the project is non-denominational. “When you get to the Kingdom of Heaven it’s not one — it’s not one church, one denomination. It’s working together for the Kingdom of God.”
“The Jerusalem Project” originated in 2004 in Cherokee County with 30-40 people and four-five projects. The Cherokee County project now has more than 700 volunteers and takes on approximately 40 projects. The Jerusalem Project began in Union County in 2011, and similar projects have also begun in Chesnee.