Members of a Campton Hills church on Sunday put their message of service into action across Kane County.
About 75 people from Congregational United Church of Christ, 40W451 Fox Mill Boulevard, participated in the fourth annual Jesus Has Left the Building day. The program involved church members helping out at the church grounds and six other sites in the county.
Every year the church identifies different community projects in need of volunteers and then church members sign up for a project of their choosing, said Wyonne Hegland, chairperson of the program and member of the church's Mission Committee.
This year's event included projects at the Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin, Corron Farm in Campton Township, Garfield Farm Museum in Campton Hills, Marklund in Geneva, the St. Charles Heritage Center in St. Charles and helping a church member in need at home.
The Rev. Suzy Daly, the church's associate minister, brought Jesus Has Left the Building to the church because she was familiar with a similar type of program offered at another church in Naperville, Hegland said.
Hegland said that the event involves a great deal of fellowship and allows the church members to get to know one another better and their community as well.
St. Charles resident John Speck said he had never been to Corron Farm before Sunday. He decided to volunteer for the farm project with 16 other church members because he prefers to work outdoors.
Speck, a member of the church for 10 years, has participated in the church's previous service programs at other sites. He helped dig up grass and sod around a pavilion so the group could spread mulch and dig more digging nearby so they could plant ornamental prairie grasses.
"The work here goes back to the church's message of increasing our love for God and neighbors," Speck said. "You get to know the folks on a different level."
Speck on Sunday learned more about Corron Farm from Lisa Mertz, program manager of the Campton Township Open Space program, which includes the farm.
Mertz is grateful that the church's members were there to help on Sunday. The Open Space's monthly volunteer work day on Saturday was rained out.
"It means everything for us because we don't have much staff to speak of," she said. "[Volunteers] are our workforce."
Over at Garfield Farms, another group from the church worked in the antique flower garden. This year has been difficult working in the garden – extra hands were needed to get the weeds under control with all the rain, said Jerome Johnson, Garfield Farms executive director.
"It's good to see them reaching out to the community and being involved," Johnson said of the church. "It says a lot about them."