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SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2007
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Fourteen Methodist congregations are joining to build a Habitat for Humanity house for Martha Clark and her six children. At the future site of the house are, from left, the Rev. James Cotton of Austinville United Methodist, 11-year-old Matthew Clark, the Rev. Kenny Baskins of Ninth Street United Methodist, Martha Clark and Joanne Griffith of Wesley Memorial United Methodist.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Fourteen Methodist congregations are joining to build a Habitat for Humanity house for Martha Clark and her six children. At the future site of the house are, from left, the Rev. James Cotton of Austinville United Methodist, 11-year-old Matthew Clark, the Rev. Kenny Baskins of Ninth Street United Methodist, Martha Clark and Joanne Griffith of Wesley Memorial United Methodist.

Assembling together
14 Methodist congregations join to build Habitat house for family of 7

By Melanie B. Smith
msmith@decaturdaily.com 340-2468

The Rev. Kenny Baskins got an idea during his prayer time: Why not get United Methodist churches to come together to build a house for Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County?

He ended up with a whole chorus of amens.

Fourteen area United Methodist churches will join to build a home for a Decatur woman and her six children.

Baskins, pastor of Ninth Street United Methodist Church, said he saw the opportunity as a way for churches to build not only a house, but also fellowship.

He and his church gave free dinners and invited local United Methodist pastors and church leaders. Eventually, most of the congregations in Morgan County agreed to back the project with volunteers and money or in-kind materials.

He said he hopes the effort will build relationships and foster community.

Joining Ninth Street will be Austinville, Central, Decatur First, Wesley Memorial, East End, Hartselle First, King's Memorial, Moss Chapel, St. Luke, Trinity, Neel, Basham and Priceville United Methodist churches. The Rev. Hal Noble of the Northwest District is contributing $1,500.

"The Christian spirit shown by these churches is a shining example of God's work in our caring communities," said Habitat Executive Director Mindy Thwing.

Money coming in

Ninth Street, Wesley and Decatur First United Methodist congregations committed to give at least $5,000 each.

Baskins said his congregation is excited about the project. Children decided to give $500 taken up at their worship time, the pastor said.

Some congregations are holding fundraisers. Thwing said Wesley Memorial had money for Habitat in its budget and is adding to it to make a contribution of $10,650. A barbecue dinner at Wesley raised $4,200 of the donation.

Thwing said total contributions were about $13,000 short as of mid-week, but she and others have faith the total $45,000 needed will come in.

The home for Martha Clark and her six children will have four bedrooms and two baths, she said, which are needed because of the family's size but make the project more expensive than usual.

Clark said she thanks God when she thinks about her family's future home. About a year ago, she noticed a Habitat sign at her workplace, Wesley Memorial Church, and called to ask about a house, she said.

"I thank God he put me in that place at that time," she said.

Clark is accumulating volunteer "sweat equity" hours needed to qualify for her house, Thwing said.

'God thing'

Framing for the home for Clark house will be June 15-16. The site is 902 Austin St. S.W., near other Habitat houses.

Thwing said she's happy to see churches of all sizes taking part. Moss Chapel, for instance, has only about three dozen people but is giving $1,500, she said. Priceville is providing all of the doorknobs, hinges and other hardware.

The stepping out by congregations has been "a God thing," Baskins said

Churches will supply several volunteers each Saturday and will take turns providing lunch, Thwing said The house should be completed in August.

Cook and Glenn, a band led by Jeff Cook of the band Alabama, will perform at a Mission Makeover benefiting Habitat on July 21. Thwing said the money will go to the Methodist project.

Church backing

United Methodist and many other churches have built or helped build Habitat houses before, some more than one. Local Presbyterian, Baptist and United Methodist churches have partnered by twos or threes to build houses. But the Methodist effort is the largest combined effort yet for the local affiliate, Thwing said.

Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County has built 40 houses. Most of the sponsors have been churches, which is unusual because affiliates typically have more industries as partners, Thwing said.

She said the affiliate's early board members also worked on houses and naturally drew their congregations in to help.

The Habitat board is looking for more land. Board member Mark Schwan said the organization would especially like a plat suitable for a subdivision, similar to the Phoenix Place subdivision in Hartselle that was developed seven years ago.

Call 340-9609 or e-mail mindy@morganhabitat.org.

Building for Habitat

  • Decatur Jaycees, Publix Charities and Decatur Baptist Church recently completed a house at 1622 Beech St. S.E. for Cherita Lewis and her son.

  • The Tennessee Valley Authority is building a house for Lisa Owens and her three daughters at 20118 Eighth Street S.E.

  • A youth build with Austin, Decatur, West Morgan and Brewer high schools will start in July. Students raised $16,000 and Boeing Co. and Cargill contributed the rest.

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