All the pews at Clairmont Presbyterian Church will be empty on Sunday morning.
The church’s 450 members will split into six different teams scattered throughout the city and Atlanta committing different acts of worship by serving others.
Annually, church members would have an opportunity to sign up for various community service projects or mission trips in the church’s fellowship hall.
“But that grew a little flat,” said Bobby Hulme-Lippert, the church's associate pastor. “So we thought, what if we reverse the process?”
And that’s how Acts of Worship was birthed from an idea that came about a year ago.
On Sunday, “we’re going to love and serve the people in the community. Instead of signing up at a booth, we’re just going to go out and do,” Hulme-Lippert said.
The congregation will gather for a short commissioning service at 9 a.m. in the Clairmont sanctuary. At 9:20 a.m., the service will conclude and the congregation will depart in small groups.
The church members will serve on six different team member projects: The Covenant House in downtown Atlanta, Journey in Midtown, Hagar’s House in Decatur, The Clarkston Community Center, Lakeside High School, and the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve.
The volunteers will visit with elderly citizens, play games and bake pizza with kids, serve meals to homeless teens, help beautify the community garden and work alongside refugees, sharing a meal with them.
“We don’t want to just say that we are the church. It really needs to be a relational thing, not people serving down to another,” Hulme-Lippert said.
At 6 p.m. on Sunday, the congregation will gather back in the sanctuary for a worship and celebration. There, they will hear from guest preacher Rev. Charlie Durham of First Presbyterian Church Tuscaloosa.
Clairmont Presbyterian members have developed a relationship with the Tuscaloosa church after serving there twice to help after the tornadoes that ripped the town apart in 2011.
“They just have a real heart for the city,” Hulme-Lippert said, adding that he hopes that Clairmont Presbyterian becomes more like that.
The pastor said he hopes that this Acts of Worship serves as a starting point for members to become more engaged members of their communities.
“People don’t know how to get involved until they taste and see,” Hulme-Lippert said.
“You can’t love what you don’t know. We need to go know our city.”