They called it the Unity Project, an opportunity to provide much needed physical work and maintenance projects. After four days of hard work, volunteers in Unity Project not only made a big difference in the community, they also unified as a worship community.
“The best part of the trip was that people got to know each other. Normally, you go to church and leave right away. We got to know each other in a different way; it really had a uniting effect on our church body,” said Susan Leahy, one of the organizers of the Unity Project.
“How beautiful it is to see a church work together for the greatness of Your Kingdom,” commented Carrie DeZutter on the Unity Project Facebook group page.
Steve Ploughe said, “Who knew hard work could be so much fun?”
More than 200 volunteers worked on 17 projects at the Lake Zurich chapel and around the community. These included numerous maintenance and landscaping projects at Alpine Chapel, as well as adding a prayer garden and replacing the chapel sign. Volunteers also worked at and the Others helped out a local family who is unable to maintain their home.
Leahy explained that the project came about as she and Kelly Gargano were looking for ways to make short-term mission trips accessible to church members. They surveyed church members to see how they felt about overseas missions. Many church members believed missions were expensive and they felt they couldn’t get the time off work.
“Kelly said there are a lot of projects around the church. Typically on mission trips we prepare the mission’s grounds and building. This will let church people know what it feels like to go on a mission trip. We really were hoping for 25-30 people to go along on the journey. We ended up with 214,” Leahy said.
About 30 of the volunteers camped on the church grounds over the mission, which ran Aug. 1-4. Leahy said it was a good opportunity for the church members to use the beautiful 17-acre grounds, which include a pond. Over the four-days, they served 1,300 meals, which were provided through donations.
Local businesses, including Beatty Decorating,, , , and Sunset Foods provided support with food, supplies and gift certificates to help defray expenses.
Each meal was accompanied by a short devotional and at night there was a campfire and music. Leahy said it was an opportunity to get back to old-fashioined family values. Older children helped with the projects and younger children had programs. One day the kids tie-dyed t-shirts for the adults.
Leahy said the church would like to do a work project next year, but probably not as extensive as this year. She said having church members work on projects, such as landscaping, rather than hiring professionals, created a sense of ownership.
“This made the church our church,” she said.