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Volunteers backbone of JAMA’s service

Washington County is celebrating National Volunteer Week April 12-18, and the Jonesborough Area Ministerial Association is a model of what can be accomplished when everyone is willing to lend a hand.
“Celebrate Service” is the theme for the 2015 event, which falls in line with JAMA’s mission to provide fellowship for its ministers; foster positive relationships and cooperation among churches; and be an effective part of the Jonesborough community through worship, benevolence and service projects.
Ministers from a variety of denominations volunteer their service, and Pastor Vincent M. Dial of Bethel Christian Church began his two-year term as JAMA president in January.
Dial said the leadership wants to serve as an example. “That’s why we’re here. We want to demonstrate Christ to the community by pastors working together,” he said. “If pastors can work together, we can help our churches and the members of our community work together.”
JAMA was started with the churches on Main Street in 2000, but membership has grown over the years and now includes Central Christian, First Baptist, Jonesborough United Methodist, Jonesborough Presbyterian, Bethel Christian, Jackson Park Church of the Brethren, Cross of Grace Lutheran and St. Paul AME Zion, in addition to a number of other churches, organizations, businesses and individuals who support the mission.
Dial said the Food Pantry is JAMA’s biggest ministry. Located in the Persimmon Ridge Road Recreation Building, the pantry provides assistance for individuals in Jonesborough, Telford and Limestone. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon on Thursdays.
With no paid staff, the Food Pantry relies on volunteers from all JAMA-member churches, plus other individuals in the community.
An annual Community Worship Service at Trinity Baptist Church, which features performances by local choirs, benefits the Food Pantry while offering spiritual encouragement to residents.
“We have been bountifully blessed in helping the Food Pantry be successful,” Dial said.
JAMA recognized that commitment during a Volunteer Appreciation Lunch held March 17 at Jonesborough Presbyterian.
“Volunteers are essential to the successful distribution of food every Thursday,” Dial said, noting there is a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination that keeps the process running smoothly.
Elmer Gillespie has served as the volunteer director of the JAMA Food Pantry since 2002. In addition to volunteer recruitment and training, he is responsible for food procurement, finances and fund raising.
Gillespie was honored last month in Nashville for his dedication to service in Washington County during the Seventh Annual Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards ceremony.
Next up for the organization is the JAMA Community Revival scheduled for May 3-6. “Watch and Pray” is the theme for the event, and services will begin each night at 7 p.m. in the following locations:
Sunday, May 3 — Jonesborough United Methodist Church
Monday, May 4 — Central Christian Church
Tuesday, May 5 — Jackson Park Church of the Brethren
Wednesday, May 6 — Bethel Christian Church
JAMA also participates in the National Day of Prayer.
JAMA meets the third Tuesday of the month, with the next meeting scheduled for April 21. While the organization does not have a formal website, anyone interested in JAMA activities can visit its Facebook page.
National Volunteer Week has been celebrated annually since President Richard Nixon signed an executive order in 1974 establishing the event.
Washington County commissioners passed a proclamation during their March 23 meeting in recognition of the individuals who dedicate themselves to helping others, thereby improving their communities and the world.