For the second year in a row, Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Salisbury, Maryland cancelled all services on Palm Sunday, sending members and regular attendees out into the community to participate in 28 different service projects across three counties of Delmarva.

Over 950 people made an impact on what was known as “PEACE 1 Day” on Sunday, April 14, 2019. Oak Ridge members cleaned up Ocean City’s boardwalk, beach, and bay; beautified the grounds and gave love and attention to the animals housed at the Worcester County Humane Society, made cards for the residents at John B. Parsons Assisted Living Community, and much more.

The model for PEACE 1 Day was set by other churches, including Saddleback Church, that set aside campus-wide weekends to serve the community. The idea of closing down Sunday worship services seemed the ideal way to engage more members to serve, especially since Oak Ridge families had busy schedules throughout the week. By naming the event “PEACE 1 Day,” more people would also be exposed to the PEACE Plan concept, and hopefully strive to make a greater impact on a global level.

“It was essentially a great way to create awareness about the PEACE Plan, and help meet the needs in our community,” says Missions Pastor, Gary McCabe. “For us, the number one reason it was important to serve outside the church walls, was because the community literally asked us to.”

Several years ago, the needs became clear when Oak Ridge volunteers surveyed local neighborhoods and received an overwhelming response for the church to meet people where they’re at. Hearing their plea, Oak Ridge members first made a commitment in 2018 to impact the community in tangible ways, like cleaning the park, distributing food, and hosting a carnival to build relationships.

What started out as a one-day service project, led to long-term transformation over the course of 2018. After serving a subsidized housing community on the opposite side of town, members sought ways they could permanently invest in that community’s life. With many families void of husbands and fathers, volunteers hosted a game night to offer kids and single moms a chance to interact with other role models. The relationships they built opened the doors to resources, training, a Christmas candlelight service, and money management programs like Financial Peace University.

After the success of the 2018 PEACE 1 Day, Oak Ridge members decided to make the project an annual event, but this time on a larger scale. This Palm Sunday, they mobilized 100 more people than in 2018, and noticed an ongoing sense of unity among their members.  

“PEACE 1 Day is an opportunity for folks to work alongside people whom they might have never had a chance to get to know otherwise,” says Pastor Gary. “There are lots of stories of friendships within the church body that continue because of PEACE 1 Day.”

Yet the impact was not limited to those who served. The “buzz” around town started the moment Oak Ridge members hit the streets in bright green PEACE 1 Day t-shirts. Spreading from social media to local news, the church’s willingness to serve resulted in new people turning up to Oak Ridge Church on Easter Sunday. They also experienced an influx of people joining their PEACE Plan Facebook Group to stay connected to future projects.

“The local church is the hope of the world today,” says Pastor Gary. “The PEACE Plan gives the church a strategy that effectively mobilizes an army of ‘ordinary people’ who are unleashed to impact their community and the world in sustainable ways. For the global church, the foundations of partnership, sustainability, and scalability provide ways of thinking about how the work we will do internationally will not be our own work, but will be the work of the receiving church. Living out PEACE personally in our everyday lives shows a world that is starving for truth, exactly what they need in authentic winning ways —  carried out by real people acting out of their own initiative doing what they love.”

To learn more about how your church help create community transformation, visit pd.church/start.

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Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox

Brandon A. Cox is a pastor, a leadership coach, a blogger, a bit of an entrepreneur, and author who helps leaders lead healthy, growing movements.