The Mercer Service Scholars spent their annual retreat in Americus, Ga., over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. They spent the weekend furthering the organization’s relationship with the Fuller Center for Housing through service projects in Americus and at Koinonia Farms. On Sunday, the group attended a church service with former president Jimmy Carter.
Anuj Patel, a Service Scholar in his junior year, planned the event with significant input from the program’s director, Dr. Chris Grant.
“Since we do a lot of stuff with the Fuller Center, we decided to do a retreat that centered solely around the Fuller Center,” Patel said.

The Mercer Service Scholars spent their annual retreat in Americus, Ga., over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. They spent the weekend furthering the organization’s relationship with the Fuller Center for Housing through service projects in Americus and at Koinonia Farms. On Sunday, the group attended a church service with former president Jimmy Carter.
Anuj Patel, a Service Scholar in his junior year, planned the event with significant input from the program’s director, Dr. Chris Grant.
“Since we do a lot of stuff with the Fuller Center, we decided to do a retreat that centered solely around the Fuller Center,” Patel said.
Armed with brushes and scaffolding, the Service Scholars spent that Saturday helping the Fuller Center repaint the exterior of a local home. They also took it upon themselves to help renovate the backyard shed.
“I actually think we got to do a lot more service this year,” Bailee Kitchens, a sophomore Service Scholar, said. “Working with the Fuller Center was really exciting; it made the work more relevant to what we are doing as a group.”
The students spent Sunday in Plains, Ga., where the first thing on their itinerary was a visit to Maranatha Baptist Church. After a security check that involved bag searches, metal detectors and a bomb-sniffing dog, the group sat down with other guests to a Sunday school lesson delivered by former president Jimmy Carter.
Carter had just returned from a visit to Egypt with his own non-profit organization, the Carter Center. He had been observing Egypt’s first parliamentary elections as part of the Carter Center’s goal to support democracy across the globe. Before beginning his Sunday school lesson, Carter gave his audience a recap of his visit.
“I enjoyed the brief current events lesson he gave before the Sunday school lesson started, talking about the free elections in Egypt and what the Carter Center is doing there,” Kitchens said.
After church the scholars spent some time visiting historical sites in Plains, Ga., the headquarters of Carter’s presidential campaign and his hometown. Carter, who is thus far the only president to come from Georgia, took office in 1977 as the thirty-ninth president of the United States. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, have worked with the Fuller family since 1984, assisting in builds and work days.
Additionally during their retreat, the Service Scholars spent a few hours at the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center, the Christian commune Koinonia Farms. The founder of both organizations, Millard Fuller, lived at Koinonia for several years with his family under the guidance of his mentor, Clarence Jordan.