Local churches come together for first Interfaith Day of Service
By Sarah Campbell
The first Interfaith Day of Service will be small with six Rowan County churches participating.
But Bishop Stephen Hiatt of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said he hopes the event will eventually include hundreds of nearby churches.
“Every spring for the last few years we’ve been encouraged from our church to do a day of service in the community,” he said. “Last year, they encouraged us to team up with other churches but we didn’t have time.
“This year, I thought ‘I’m going to think big.’”
Hiatt said he found a listing online for all of the churches in Rowan County and got to work trying to contact as many as possible.
Carol Hallman, pastor of First United Church of Christ, and Barrie Kirby, pastor of Spencer Presbyterian Church, were the only ones to show up to the initial meeting in January.
“We identified some tentative projects that we had done in the past and scheduled a meeting in another month to try to get more people involved,” Hiatt said.
Representatives from Central United Methodist, John Calvin Presbyterian and Mt. Zion Christian Episcopal Church came to that meeting.
The group decided to see if Rowan Helping Ministries had anything they could work on during the service day.
“They ended up identifying 11 different projects that will take at least 50 people half a day to do,” Hiatt said.
Projects include things such as landscaping and cleaning the exterior of transitional houses, organizing the food pantry and sanitizing cots in the shelter.
The pastors from the two Spencer churches suggested getting involved with Spencer Woods, so about 20 volunteers will go there to help clear a walking trail.
Those who have children are invited to help out at Dan Nicholas Park by cleaning and doing various repair work.
Right now, Hiatt said about 100 people have signed up to participate in the service day, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
But he welcomes anyone who would like to help out. Hiatt said people can contact him at 704-798-6013 or firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
The group will begin the day at First United Church of Christ, 207 W. Horah St., where the pastor will share a short scripture and provide a prayer.
They will meet back at the church at 12:30 p.m. for a luncheon that includes pizza provided by Domino’s and salad from Olive Garden. Food Lion is donating 12 cases of water.
“We’ll eat and talk about our experiences,” Hiatt said.
Hiatt said he hopes to turn the event into an annual day of service that will create goodwill among local churches.
“It shows we are all trying to do good Christian service,” he said. “We’re trying to get something started where we will not talk about doctrinal differences between the churches and we will simply have an intermingling of congregations.”
Hiatt said his church hasn’t taken ownership of the event, he’s just been the point person. That’s why they chose to call it an interfaith day.
“At first we called it a Christian day of service,” he said. “But we decided to change it to interfaith to include non-Christian religious groups, which we haven’t been successful at reaching, but at least we’re trying.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.