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Churches Play Important Role in JCWP

Churches Play Important Role in JCWP

From former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to individuals who traveled across the country, participants in the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2003 repeatedly said they volunteered because they are Christians and they believe this is what Jesus calls them to do.

The Rev. Aaron McCollough of the Troup County (Ga.) Baptist Association in the LaGrange area said, “There are a lot of things we don’t do right as people, and there are a lot of things that we don’t do right as the church, but this time we got it right.” The 41 churches that are part of the local Baptist association funded and built one of the 32 houses constructed during the week in LaGrange.

Chuck Vogt traveled with a work crew from Zionsville (Ind.) Presbyterian Church to work on a house that his congregation helped sponsor. In addition to building Habitat houses locally near Indianapolis, Vogt said the church committed to help with the JCWP in LaGrange as a way to do missions outside their community.

The Rev. Rebecca Littlejohn said that on a good Sunday 35 people are a part of worship at First Christian Church in Anniston, Ala. However, the tiny congregation raised more than $12,000 to co-sponsor a JCWP house. Although a previous Habitat for Humanity project attracted a few new members, Littlejohn said, “We are not doing this just so the church can grow.We are doing it because it is what the church is supposed to do.”

More than 100 young adult volunteers from Willow Creek Community Church, a congregation of about 20,000 in South Barrington, Ill., near Chicago, lent a hand to help build houses in Anniston. In addition to being a part of the excitement for JCWP, organizers said they hoped to study the simple logistics of organizing such a large group as they plan for future Habitat work projects in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Chicago.

Nicole Axis said she joined the work crew from Willow Creek because she wanted to be Christ’s hands and feet in any way she could. “Serving isn’t an option,” she said. “God calls each and every one of us to help others. It is a privilege to serve.”

Among the other volunteers at this year’s project were 15 individuals from various American Baptist churches throughout the country who worked on a house in Valdosta, Ga., sponsored by the National Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA.

The choir from First Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C., was certainly honored to sing at the opening ceremonies for the 2003 Jimmy Carter Work Project in Anniston.However, their true excitement came through the prospect of planting seeds for other choirs.

The Rev. Clark Sorrells, music director, said the choir hoped that their presence at JCWP would inspire other churches to combine the ministries of music and construction. Choir members remained in Anniston and helped build houses on Monday. “Music transcends our theological differences,” he said, “and surely providing a cup of water and building a roof binds us together. We are excited about doing both to build the Kingdom.”

Twelve of the 92 houses constructed during the week were supported by churches. “That number is significant,” said Rebecca Hix, associate director of Church Relations for Habitat for Humanity International, “and we hope to see more churches participate in coming years.”

Participating in his third JCWP, Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (National Council of Churches), is encouraging the 140,000 congregations in the NCC to partner with Habitat for Humanity.

“We’re trying to spread the word using the infrastructure Habitat already has in place. In recent months, we’ve heard a lot of talk about weapons of mass destruction. Well, Habitat for Humanity is a weapon of mass CONSTRUCTION.”

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda,Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 89 nations have built and sold more than 125,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.