PERRY, SC– A community center for 8 rural churches in South Carolina is becoming a reality, thanks to a summer mission trip sponsored by First Baptist Church of Barnwell.
It may eventually serve as a multi-use facility with room for a gymnasium, classes and worship, even a Red Cross emergency shelter.
Perry is in Aiken County, between Wagener & Salley…. 50 miles from Augusta, about 40 miles from Barnwell. And 100 miles from Barnwell, in the opposite direction, sits Mother Emanuel AME Church, on Calhoun Street in Charleston.
A house of worship; the scene of a violent massacre that took the lives of nine church members one month ago today.
A house of worship; in a city where forgiveness overflowed, and unity prevailed in the aftermath of what happened … one month ago today.
Libbie Huff has been involved with FBC’s Construction Ministry since 2002. She sees the irony of building bridges, building relationships, just one month after another church in the Palmetto State was the victim of evil.
“Especially, you know with everything going on in the state, with all the hate stuff that you hear.”
But on this day, all these volunteers hear is drilling, hammering, sawing, and caulking… for Christ.
Libbie Huff/ “He came to serve, not to be served, and we’re created in his image so we serve like he wants us to.”
Ted Darby/ “Well, I think those tragedies are really small in comparison to the number of good acts that are happening everywhere, so I really think this is probably more the norm than those tragedy acts.”
The Barnwell First Baptist Church Construction Ministry started in 2002 and it’s been going strong ever since. The team has traveled to Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, West Virginia… and this week, the county next door. They’ve been joined by volunteers from other states, the places where they’ve done good deeds– and now those beneficiaries are “paying it forward.”
Some volunteers have construction backgrounds, others have open minds about learning new skills!
It’s how Ted and Mellisa Darby have chosen to spend their vacation week– by giving back to others.
Melissa Darby/”We’re going to Barnwell for breakfast and then coming here and then going home and showering, going back to Barnwell for dinner and worship.”
All who come have faith that their hard work is not only building structures, but building relationships.
Libbie/ “When we build the churches, or the community center, we know that God made it. He brought us here, so this is our way of just planting little seeds for Him. It’s just an honor.”
The Construction Ministry team is working with 8 rural African American churches to complete a Community Center. It’s been sitting unused for years… but this summer, finally, studs have gone up, ceilings are being built, insulation, sheet rock and wiring is being pulled throughout the facility. No conflict, only hope.
Henry Allen is President of the Samaria Sunday School Union, Inc.
“If you go around to the tent here you’ll see there are some members who have volunteered to feed… and right now we want to say thank you to the First Baptist Church of Barnwell for giving us some hope. Not only that, we want to thank all the merchants who have donated goods or cut the prices on certain things so we can continue on.”
Continue to build the Samaria Sunday School Union, Incorporated Community Center.
Mr. Henry is excited about the possibilities it holds for people in this small community.
“Something has got to be working on the inside, what you’re doing and that love that you show on the outside. In other words, this community here, they need this building, and it’s for the surrounding community and any others that want to use it.”
The team will continue finishing the Community Center on Saturdays through the summer– and you can help! Donations are appreciated: if you can donate building supplies or construction materials, give Coley Creech a call at (803) 571-0314.