Last Saturday, Covenant and Lima United Methodist Churches partnered for the first time to Help Build Hope. More than one hundred volunteers from Covenant, Lima, and other community organizations all came together in Lima's parking lot to take part in something amazing.
What would be so amazing? They were going to construct all of the walls for the lower level of five townhomes - just using hammers and nails!
After breakfast (you've got to have a good breakfast for something like this), Pastor Mark Terry from Covenant Church offered a devotion to set the tone for the day, saying that more than just putting nails into those pieces of wood, they would be putting their hearts into walls that would ultimately radiate love to the families who would live within them. More than building walls, they would be building relationships with those they worked with and helping to build God's kingdom by giving families homes they otherwise couldn't afford.
Volunteers formed small crews and took to assembling walls and improving their hammering skills, their efforts resulting in a glorious melody of hammering that echoed the sounds of hope across the neighborhood. They added a finishing touch to each wall - inscribing each with a bible verse and signing their names.
By the time most of the volunteers gathered together for lunch, almost all of the walls were complete and the hammering slowed to just a few. Volunteers had also loaded almost half of the walls into a truck to go to their new home in West Grove, PA, where Habitat for Humanity of Chester County would integrate them into the build of five townhomes, part of a larger development of forty. After lunch, all of the walls for one unit were assembled in the parking lot and the rest of the walls were loaded into the truck for a second trip. In all, volunteers fashioned more than 1300 pieces of wood into more than 100 walls - each wall etched with their love and compassion.
This was the second time Lima UMC hosted a Help Build Hope event. Help Build Hope events like this are a ministry of Crossroads Missions. The folks from Crossroads Missions worked with Habitat for Humanity of Chester County to help make this build possible, integrating the volunteer-driven, streamlined construction technique that happened Saturday into the standard build process for the West Grove development.
On Sunday, after a short prayer service and dedication of the set of walls that had been erected in the parking lot, those walls were also loaded into the truck to go to West Grove. Pastor Dorry Newcomer from Lima United Methodist Church summed it up well:
The completed walls are like identification cards for the volunteers, snapshots they can carry around in their memory banks reminding them, "This is who I am. I am capable. I am caring. I am committed to making the world better." We thought we were building walls to meet other people's needs, but it turns out, we were building them to meet our needs too. Our Help Build Hope weekend is an annual reminder that there is no "us" and "them", there is only humanity, all equally in need of love, acceptance, and shelter. As we build physical habitats, we are building our spiritual habitat as well. That is why we partner with Help Build Hope and Habitat for Humanity.