Local News

September 1, 2013

Church plans day of service

Dalton First United Methodist Church’s doors won’t open for worship on Sunday, Sept. 29.

For one Sunday this month, the church is even encouraging people not to attend church

It’s not a protest.

It’s not a political statement.

It’s founded in love.

“The idea means to be out of the church building and to be what the church is supposed to be,” said Kenny Ott, the outreach pastor at Dalton First United Methodist Church on Thornton Avenue.

Instead of having a traditional church service that day, members will be serving the community as part of “Don’t go to Church. Be the Church!”

“Look what Jesus did,” Ott said. “Anytime he ministered, he was out of the church. He did very tangible things to meet the needs of the people and the community. That’s what it means to be the church.”

Yard signs have been placed around Whitfield County saying “don’t go to church” and list the website, servewhitfield.com. But some of the signs have been taken down, including the ones on the church’s lawn.

“The first day we put them out, people took them down and left them laying there,” Ott said.

He isn’t sure if people realized the signs were placed there by the church intentionally.

On Sept. 29, church members — and anyone else who wants to volunteer — will go out into the community and work on service projects. Some of the projects already planned include building a wheelchair ramp at someone’s house; cleaning yards and doing housework for those who aren’t able; writing letters to soldiers, missionaries and prisoners to encourage them and tell them they are loved; working on playgrounds at some of the elementary schools; and helping with maintenance work at nonprofit agencies.

Church members are still looking for service projects, but there are some stipulations. It must be a project that can be done in one day, must take about two to five hours and already be funded.

Church members are also encouraging others to participate in the day or help fund a project. There will be a project for everyone to participate in, no matter what age or ability. To suggest a project or volunteer, go to servewhtifield.com.

But the day of service is just the beginning. Participants hope to build lasting relationships and partner with people and organizations to continue service in the community.

“We want to change the perception of our community that we’re a caring, sharing church,” said Cindy Ray, who along with her husband Todd are coordinating the day of service. “We want to share our talents.

“Kenny’s challenging us to find ways to reach beyond the walls, to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” she said. “Everyone knows someone who needs help. ... It’s a tangible way, we are reaching out to the community with real love.”

Ott hopes people realize the Methodist church is invested in its community.

“We care,” he said. “Jesus says we’re supposed to be a light in the community and salt to the world. I ask myself, ‘If we close our doors would anyone notice?’

“I think a lot of people look at religion and say you talk about love, but you don’t live it out,” he said. “Faith should make a difference. If not, it really is the opiate of the masses.”

This isn’t the first outreach the church has done. In previous years, during the season of Lent — where people typically fast or give up a luxury item to help them focus more on God — Ott encouraged church members to give instead of “give up.”

Church members did random acts of kindness, such as paying for a stranger’s meal in a restaurant.

They’ve also “bought down” gas prices at one gas station for several hours close to Christmas. Often times, they’ve been able to lower gas by 50 cents a gallon, and they pump gas for customers.

“I think this is the new form of evangelism,” Ott said. “This generation wants to know their life is making a difference. They like to feel like they’ve made friends and they’ve made a difference.

“Worship isn’t what we do on a Sunday,” he said. “Worship is a way of life.”

Ott hopes other churches will be involved in “Don’t go to Church. Be the Church!”

“My vision is for others to join us,” he said. “My vision is to see every church in Whitfield County do this.”

The service day will end with a program at 6 p.m. at the Dalton Green. The Christian band Calling Glory will lead music that night, and the church’s praise band and choir will perform. Everyone is invited to attend, even if they didn’t participate in the service projects.

Text Only
Local News
  • Green spot closing 1 mlh.jpg A part of the family

    Larry Green can’t remember the exact date. But he says it was about 54 years ago when his father Marvin took him to see the new store he and his brother Herman had commissioned Red Jennings to build at 309 W. Emery St. in Dalton.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • New high school?

    The only means for “staying small” and preserving “The Dalton Way” in Dalton Public Schools may be through expansion, Superintendent Jim Hawkins said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bond denied for man arrested in synthetic marijuana bust

    A Dalton business owner charged in a synthetic marijuana bust was denied bond Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Longtime Dalton business Green Spot to close

    Larry Green says he made the decision more than a year ago.

    July 29, 2014

  • Kiwanis Club3.jpg Kiwanians get a lesson in money and banking

    It makes it easier for us to buy and sell goods and services. It is the measure by which we judge the relative value of those goods and services, and it allows us to “store value,” by placing it away and using it when we need it.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff: Inmates don’t ask to vote

    In his 21 years of service, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said inmates have never asked for the opportunity to vote.

    July 28, 2014

  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014