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Heflin church builds home for memberís familycomment (0)

November 11, 2010

By Carrie Brown McWhorter

Every Sunday morning at Pine Grove Baptist Church, Heflin, Rodney Morgan arrives early so he can make coffee for his Sunday School class.

“Don’t make him late to church,” fellow class member David Howle said. “He wants to be there first.”

Pastor Steve Dempsey said Morgan is one of the Cleburne Baptist Association church’s most faithful members, seldom missing a service, despite the fact that life can be pretty challenging for him and his mother, Margie. Both of Morgan’s brothers live in mental health institutions, and he and his mother do their best to take care of each other.

Last fall, however, things looked pretty bleak for the Morgans. The Cleburne County Health Department condemned their home because of ongoing concerns about water, sewage and the overall safety of the house. The first deadline to correct the problems passed, then a second and then a third.

Bob Young and Jerry Brown, deacons at Pine Grove Baptist who had worked with the Morgans for years, were at a loss as to what to do in what seemed a hopeless situation.

Then an idea was born in Morgan’s Sunday School class of young adults. Howle, an agriscience teacher at Cleburne County High School in Heflin, suggested building a new house. There was enough land on their property, and Howle estimated that with donated labor, church members could build a house for $12,000 to $15,000.

“We were thinking of buying a mobile home, but I knew we could build a house of the same size or larger for the same money or less, and it would be a home that could last a lifetime for Rodney,” he said.

Howle’s proposal was for his shop students to frame the walls at school and then other volunteers would erect them on site and finish the house from there. He presented the idea to the deacons and came away with individual commitments of $5,000 toward the project. The church then set up a “bucket fund,” giving members the opportunity to contribute to the project each week. Monetary donations began to come in, and as word spread about the project, donations of supplies and labor began to come in as well.

As students in the Heflin chapter of FFA framed wall sections and built trusses for the roof, a local concrete contractor did the preparation work for the foundation and a local building supply company donated concrete.

When the wall sections were completed, volunteers brought them to the site and set the walls and most of the trusses on a Saturday. They continued to work on Saturdays, with volunteers donating labor and supplies for the roof, walls, wiring, plumbing, painting, flooring and trim work. In the project’s final stages, cabinets, a washer and dryer and furnishings were donated, too.

On Oct. 10, Pine Grove held an open house for church and community members to see what Dempsey calls “the house that God built.”

For Margie Morgan, a new stove has been one of the highlights of the new house. For Rodney Morgan, it’s been the hot showers, which he had not had in more than two years.

Dempsey expects the Morgans to move in as soon as the last few touches are added to the house.

Howle said he hopes the excitement of the project will lead to more missions projects in the future, and Brown called the whole experience “the most remarkable missions story I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

“Everybody who heard about the project wanted to be part of it, and it has just grown and grown,” he said.

And one of the project’s biggest blessings was seeing the younger generation step up and serve, Brown said.

“These younger folks got excited and that motivated everybody else,” he said.

“We started out to build just the most basic house that could be built, but we’re going to have a house that is not large but is as nice as anyone’s and totally paid for. It’s just been an amazing experience.”

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