Wesley Walk for Others: Raising Money for YOUR Ministry


By Ansley Brackin 
Communication Specialist for The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church

Wesley Walk for Others has gained popularity over its 31 years of walking around Stone Mountain for Wesley Community Centers. Though the establishment has closed its doors, the walk will live on to raise money for several ministries.

The Wesley Walk for Others was the creation of deaconess, Doris Alexander, the “face of Wesley Community Centers”. Even ten years after the Peachtree Road Race began, walks were not a common fund raiser, but Alexander wanted something less competitive than the popular 10K race to represent the ministry.

In the first years, participants raised money and gathered pledges to support their ten mile stroll around the park. Supporters paid per mile to contribute to Wesley Community Centers’ three programs: Camp Wesley, Project Extend, and Bethlehem Senior Center.

Today, the Wesley Walk is a six mile walk, beginning at Stone Mountain First UMC, trailing through the park and around the mountain itself. Often money is donated up front before the big day.

Through every struggle of the Wesley Community Centers, walkers continue to bring enthusiasm in October for the event. The largest amount of participants in one year is around 1300.

When the ministry came to a halt, passing one of Atlanta’s highest attended Senior Centers, Bethlehem Senior Center into the hands of Meals on Wheels (READ MORE BELOW), supporters asked for the walk to remain.

Walk coordinator, Sue Raymond, wanted to meet the wishes of the Community Center enthusiasts, but needed a ministry to lift up. A new outlook came to her while talking to friend Rev. Ellen Shepard of Stone Mountain First UMC.

Shepard talked of a yearning she felt to help children on reduced lunch in the area. With about twenty children within their camp alone on reduced lunch, she suggested that the Wesley Walk fund raising go towards starting the cause.

Raymond saw the passion in the church leader and thought of how each congregation feels connected to certain ministries, missions, and other forms of outreach. Many have their own ministries; some lack the funds to start one. She then presented an idea to the district level on allowing each church involved to choose where their fund raising goes.

“I think this has the potential for every congregation to find what they are passionate about and display what they’re passionate about,” Raymond explains.

Churches can support a range of ministries, from local outreach to missionary support. The money could start a new ministry or give an existing one a push. Possibilities are now endless.

She envisions signs created by each church lining the trail, showcasing what the congregations are lifting up in support during their walk. The Atlanta Decatur Oxford District along with the surrounding districts fell in love with the idea and excitement has grown since.

“Churches will see this as a painless way to do fundraising,” she says of the affordable opportunity, where the only real expense is a ten dollar entrance fee for a t-shirt. “Everything that they get is pure profit.”

Anticipation increased when Raymond shared the news of the Wesley Walk’s continuation at Annual Conference. Several United Methodist Women among others were excited to volunteer again for the event by the end of the session.

The walk forms life-long connections with all involved. Raymond recalls seeing a woman walking around the mountain while pregnant, then again a couple of years later with a stroller. Years later she finds the walker with her “baby” who is now in college.

“I hope this will be something where if you’ve never done it you come try it,” says Raymond.

Wesley Walk for Others wants to support every congregation’s passions by walking together in fellowship.

Participate in the Wesley Walk makeover on Saturday October 25th  at 7:30AM at Stone Mountain UMC. Walk-ins registration for those not with a congregation or a United Methodist Church will be set up before the race. Online registration available soon. Get involved and learn more by contacting Sue Raymond at sueraymond@bellsouth.net


Bethlehem Senior Center Now Under Care of Meals On Wheels Atlanta

Earlier this year, Bethlehem - under the operation of the Wesley Community Centers - was facing closure due to lack of funding and support. The impending closure of the center was a huge loss to the community because it serves a low-income area that has very few offerings for senior citizens. The Bethlehem seniors were distraught at losing their place of community and support. Wesley Community Centers and Meals On Wheels Atlanta worked collaboratively to identify ways to keep the center open. As of April 2014, Meals On Wheels Atlanta assumed full responsibility for the operational and fiscal management of Bethlehem Senior Center. “Bethlehem Senior Center is a pillar institution of southeast Atlanta and it was extremely important to us that it remain open. The Bethlehem seniors are excited to continue the vibrant programs, services and social engagement that contribute to their quality of life and positive outlook,” said Angelique Miller, Director of Senior Centers for Meals On Wheels Atlanta. Meals On Wheels Atlanta manages seven Neighborhood Senior Centers throughout Fulton County. Seniors age 60 or older are provided transportation to and nutritious meals at local centers for activities that strengthen, stimulate, enliven and empower.
In its new role for Bethlehem Senior Center, Meals On Wheels Atlanta must quickly generate additional funding and community awareness to ensure Bethlehem remains open for the long-term. Last year, Bethlehem Senior Center provided 4,282 meals to seniors attending the center and transported 4,683 people to and from their homes, with 483 seniors participating in educational workshops and classes such as chronic disease self-management, health and wellness, sewing, arts and crafts, and Zumba.
 “We are thrilled to keep the doors open at Bethlehem for the vital programming that it provides. It is truly a “home away from home” for the seniors in the community. We will need broad support to ensure the center’s long-term viability,” said Jeff Smythe, Executive Director for Meals On Wheels Atlanta. 

About Meals On Wheels Atlanta

Founded in 1965, Meals On Wheels Atlanta is a nonprofit organization that supports senior independence through meals, shelter, education and community. Through extensive programming, Meals On Wheels Atlanta delivers more than 120,000 meals annually, repairs hundreds of senior homes, manages seven neighborhood senior centers, provides community and wellness education, and helps seniors and their families manage Alzheimer's and dementia at the onsite Adult Day Health Center. Meals On Wheels Atlanta serves approximately 2,400 seniors annually. For more information on how to volunteer or donate, please visit www.mealsonwheelsatlanta.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter or call (404) 351-3889.