Southwest District spends day serving Vashti, others


By Kara Witherow, Editor

More than 150 people gathered at the Vashti Center in Thomasville Saturday, Feb. 22 for the Southwest District’s Inaugural Day of Giving Back.

A day to focus on missions outside the walls of the church, the effort brought together adults, youth, and children from throughout the district to serve.

“This was an opportunity to bring our churches together for fellowship and a common purpose to strengthen the connections between our congregations,” said Southwest District Lay Leader J. Knapp. “It was an example and an inspiration for those congregations on how to be the hands and feet of Christ in the real world, how to get outside the four walls we worship in to impact the world.”

Projects included assembling United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) hygiene kits; writing letters to servicemen and servicewomen in Korea; assembling benches and tables for Vashti’s basketball court; and trimming trees and shrubbery, raking leaves, and pulling weeds around Vashti’s campus.

After the entire group ate lunch with Vashti residents, the youth volunteers began a pick-up game of flag football with residents.

The highlight of the day, for me, was the outpouring of support and the fellowship,” Knapp said. “It was a great example – probably one of the best examples I’ve seen in a long time – of our UM connection in practice.”

Many Southwest District congregations were represented, Knapp said, with some sending several volunteers to serve.

Rev. David Diaz, associate pastor of Cordele First United Methodist Church, took a group of about 20 from Cordele First UMC and El Faro in Albany. They did landscaping and beautification work around Vashi’s campus and packed UMCOR hygiene kits.

“They’ve received a lot of help in the past few years, and they are giving back,” said Rev. Diaz. “This is their response.”

District leaders plan to make this day an annual event.

“Our first annual Day of Giving was incredible,” said Southwest District superintendent Rev. Doreen Smalls. “I am grateful for Vashti for allowing us to minister with them. It was a blessing to serve with persons of all ages truly being the hands and feet of Jesus and giving back beyond their local faith community.”