Q&A with LCMS Servant Event Host Greg Arnett
DCE Greg Arnett has organized “Fixin’ Up the Thumb” in Caro, Mich., for 24 years.
Every year since 1996, Director of Christian Education Greg Arnett has organized and hosted “Fixin’ Up the Thumb,” an LCMS Servant Event offered through the Synod’s Youth Ministry, at his congregation, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Caro, Mich. During this nine-day event, some 40 youth work on home repair projects around Tuscola County, Mich., and participate in Bible studies and community life events. In this interview, Arnett talks about the fruits of these years of servant events, both for the community and for the participants.
What led you to start Fixin’ Up the Thumb?
A: I started taking youth groups to different servant events in the late ’80s. Then I started hosting Servant Events of my own — my first one was down in Seymour, Ind. When I took the call here to Caro, we wanted to start one up here as well. We introduced it to the congregation, it was approved, and we never looked back!
How has the event benefitted your community?
A: In the 24 years that we have done this, we have worked for 115 different families, many of them for more than one year. For instance, we had a member who had cerebral palsy, and we were literally able to keep her in her house because of Fixin’ Up the Thumb. Many years, we did something on her house — the roof, the floors, etc. Tuscola County is not a real high-income area. And so, a lot of families in the area need work to be done on their houses. We provide this type of work for the elderly, the disabled and the needy.
How does an event like this impact the participants?
A: I see growth that continues way past the event itself. We have participants that have gone on to go into ministry. We have one that actually decided to become a DCE while on the Servant Event itself.
What have you learned from Fixin’ Up the Thumb?
A: Every year, the sense of teamwork still humbles me. Everyone brings their gifts to the table, and they’re varied, and the total sum of what is accomplished through these varied gifts is just amazing. I mean, one of my work directors is a licensed contractor. The other one is a very skilled handyman. … What they accomplish in a week is just amazing. Then you have those who are leading the Bible studies, those who are doing the community life — the way everyone’s gifts come together is very exciting.
Why have you continued to host the event all these years?
A: Jesus’ last words on this planet, before He ascended into heaven, were that [His disciples] would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Others have passions like “We do mission trips down to Haiti.” And it’s not one or the other, it’s both/and. It’s Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. And so, Caro and Tuscola County, that is our Jerusalem. And we’re being Jesus’ witnesses here.
Staff editor and writer for LCMS Communications.