By Joel Hall
This weekend, the United Methodist Men of Stockbridge and Jonesboro will get under the hood for the greater good during their first annual Pit Stop Community Car Inspection.
On Saturday, March 15, from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., Methodist churches will be checking the vital systems of people's cars, free of charge, at four different locations in Henry and Clayton counties. The churches hosting car inspections are Stockbridge First United Methodist Church (UMC) at 4863 North Henry Blvd.; Red Oak UMC at 3894 Walt Stephens Road; Jodeco Road UMC at 1500 Jodeco Road in Stockbridge, and Andrews Chapel UMC 122 Watterson St. in Jonesboro.
The drive-through inspection will include a general safety check, a check of tire tread and inflation levels, breaks, and a general engine inspection, which includes a visual check of belts, hoses, wires, battery and fluid levels.
Walt Wake, a member of Stockbridge UMC and a service manager at a Volvo dealership in Chamblee, Ga., got the idea from a similar event held at his mother's church in Florida. With the state of Florida being a "retirement haven," Wake said the event aided many seniors who were physically unable to properly maintain their vehicles.
"They're doing it once a month now," in Florida, Wake said. "We'll have to see what happens in Stockbridge. The fellas are pretty revved up about it, because its something fun to do."
"We thought that this was something that the men could do together," said program coordinator and Stockbridge UMC member, Michael Armstrong. "A lot of things get neglected in normal wear and tear going back and forth to work. This is going to give another set of eyes."
While the inspection will not cover diagnostic work, repair, or part replacement, church members will be supervised by an ASE (Institute of Automotive Service Excellence) certified technician and will be able to make recommendations. Tire compressors will be on site to ensure that tires are properly inflated.
"We're just a bunch of guys giving some good advice, instead of somebody paying $50 to an auto mechanic to do it," said Armstrong. "We're not going to be able to do any diagnostic work ... but learning about it may be able to alleviate concerns."
Howard Turnipseed, president of the United Methodist Men of Andrews Chapel UMC, said the program was one of the first coordinated efforts of the Methodist churches in the Griffin District, which includes Butts, Upson, Spalding, Pike, Lamar, Monroe, Jasper, Henry, and Clayton counties.
"In our fellowship, we look at all aspects of trying to involve men in things of interest," said Turnipseed. "Naturally, men are prone to be interested in their cars. [The event] will strengthen the fellowship of each local unit of the church and work as a communication tool with some of the other churches in the Griffin District. It will be an evangelism tool as well."