Kannapolis church group does mission work in Vermont

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Editor’s note: The Bennington (Vt.) Banner published this article about a visiting group from Jackson Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis on Aug. 2. The town of Pownal is located in Bennington County in the very southwest corner of Vermont, where Vermont, New York and Massachusetts meet.
By Keith Whitcomb Jr.
Bennington (Vt.) Banner
POWNAL ó Volunteers are giving the Faith Christian Fellowship Church on Main Street a facelift.
About 43 members of Jackson Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis have made the 800-mile journey to Vermont from Kannapolis, N.C., to improve the church’s exterior. They are replacing the Plexiglas coverings over two of the church’s larger stained glass windows, as well as resealing the window edges and giving them new coats of paint. Cracks in the church’s stone walls are also being filled in, the Rev. Jon Estes, pastor of Jackson Park Baptist, said.
He said the plan for the interior when they started last Saturday was to redo some floorboards and tiles, but once the old material was pulled up, many of the supporting floor joists and boards were found to be rotten and in need of replacing. Both the bathroom and the foyer were completely redone.
About twice a year, volunteers from Jackson Park Church try to head out of state to help other churches in need, he said. Funding for the materials, which has so far totaled $3,400, comes from their church’s own funds while the rest of the cost comes from the volunteers’ pockets.
Estes said he had only been with the church doing volunteer trips for a short time, but the church itself had been at it for 15 years. Three or four summer after Hurricane Katrina, the group was down in Louisiana for a week to 10 days at a time working on rebuilding, he said.
For next year, Estes said he is working on taking a group overseas to Romania to work with Romani (Gypsy) communities.
Most people doing the construction work in Pownal brought their families with them and have incorporated them into the volunteer work. From 9 a.m. to noon, younger children attend a Bible club while the teenagers do door-to-door type outreach work, Estes said.
Boyd Biles, a member of the church group, said that no one working on the church does construction for a living. They all either learned it secondhand or had previous job in the construction industry.
“They all believe, and they want to work,” Biles said.
Biles, who works for AT&T, said that getting time off to do the volunteer work was a challenge for some church members. Biles himself said he spent an hour and a half Thursday morning on the phone talking someone through a problem involving the 911 phone line.
The church members are staying at the Lakeside Christian Camp in Pittsfield, Mass., about 45 minutes away. Each day they arrived at 9 a.m. and pack up by 8:30 p.m., Estes said.They are scheduled to leave early Saturday morning, but another group from North Carolina ó Buies Creek First Baptist Church ó will be coming in to do further community outreach activities and may do some work on the Pownal church itself, Gerald Frey, pastor of Faith Christian Fellowship Church, said. The following week, another North Carolina church is coming in to do similar work, he said.
All of the work is through a four-year partnership between the Green Mountain Baptist Association and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Frey said. The partnership was originally for three years but was extended to four.Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb @benningtonbanner.com.