Dozens of Grace United Methodist Church's members are involved in mission trips from year to year, but the coronavirus has put the brakes on a variety of service projects this year.

The stretch of July 23-25, however, had truckloads of the congregation's teens and adults (and neighbors) in action mostly around North Augusta, helping with a variety of home-improvement and landscaping projects for elderly or needy neighbors.

"We were trying to find a way that we could serve missions during COVID-19," said Grace's senior pastor, the Rev. Tommy Wilkes, noting that the church's Bolivia outreach took a hit this year, as did Salkehatchie Summer Service (canceled statewide) and the congregation's Project WARM (Weatherization and Repair Ministry). 

"This is a way we could bring our volunteers together and ... do some construction for a few days and some reflection at night," the pastor said. As for the yard work, mostly for retirement-age people, he added, "That's another way we thought it would be good to get out in the community, and it wasn't a lot of work ... but it was work they couldn't do by themselves."

Wilkes described the project as "very effective," and added, "The youth component, I think, was incredible. Young people, they want to serve."