In National Volunteer Week, the Uniting Church celebrates the contributions of all our volunteers who give up their time in service of their community. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the church. Every week, congregation members engage in a diverse range of volunteering activities, from working bees to children’s groups to op-shops.
More than six million Australians volunteer their time every year.
According to Volunteering Australia, 96 per cent of volunteers believe that giving up their time for others ‘makes people happier’.
Studies have shown that volunteers are healthier and sleep better than those who don’t volunteer.
Our Sammy Stamp volunteers gather at the synod office every Thursday. Sammy Stamp has been a Uniting Church Adult Fellowship project for more than 30 years. Volunteers collect, trim, sort and package stamps received from Uniting Church members. The stamps are sold and the money directed to various church programs. Approximately $40,000 is raised each year.
The Mission Liaison Group consists of Uniting Church volunteers who sort and pack goods for communities in the Pacific. Last month, 56 volunteers from 14 different congregations spent their Saturday packing supplies for communities in Vanuatu devastated by Cyclone Pam.
Children’s groups are active in many congregations throughout the synod. They require the passion and tireless dedication of volunteers to organise fun and interactive activities.
The Ivanhoe Messy Church started three years ago with a handful of volunteers led by Rev Sandy Brodine. It provides a space for children and their parents to explore their faith through craftwork, cooking and other hands-on activities.
The Messy Church now has between 40 to 50 members every month. The volunteers have recently started a second Messy Church at Heidelberg, where participants gather once a month in a family-friendly environment.
Pancake Day is an annual event on the Uniting Church calendar. Many congregations transform their church halls into pancake parlours and volunteers cook delicious pancakes to raise funds for UnitingCare. Pancake flippers from Plenty Valley Uniting Church raised $255 at their Pancake Day event this year.
Op-shops are a popular way for Uniting Church congregations to engage with the local community. The Melton Second Hand Op-shop has provided quality second-hand clothing and furniture for nearly 40 years. It is run by a group of dedicated volunteers who sort donated items and provide a listening ear for the customers. The funds raised from the clothing and furniture supports various ministries and activities of the Melton Uniting Church.
Community goodwill is often most in need during times of crisis. Members from the Presbytery of North East Victoria came to the aid of a Bungeet resident whose property was blackened by fires during summer. Uniting Church volunteers, led by Benalla Uniting Church member Alan Stafford, replaced approximately 13km of fencing.
Uniting Church agencies such as UnitingCare rely on the dedication of generous volunteers to provide essential services to the community.
UnitingCare Geelong has more than 400 volunteers helping with a wide range of tasks. Volunteers bring specialised skills to the agency, such as accounting, finance and education experience.
These activities are just a snapshot of the various volunteering work taking place in the church community every week. If you want to acknowledge the work of your volunteers, please leave a tribute to them in the comments below or send a photo to email@example.com