By Kayla Rinker
CEDAR HILL – More than 100 volunteers labored long hours here and endured extreme heat to bless the people of Friendship Baptist Church.
Friendship, which has met inside Cedar Hill Intermediate School for the last 10 years, was chosen by the Alabama-based Chilton Baptist Builders (CBB) to receive much-needed volunteer help in the construction of its new 7,300-square-foot church building.
“Watching it go up was incredible,” said Friendship Pastor Dave Willis. “It’s amazing how fast things were going, and in 100 degree weather. In four days it was up. It has been a real shot in the arm for us. We believe God has so much in store for us and that this building is just the dessert, not the main meal.”
Willis has served as the church’s pastor since it started 13 years ago. He said they started the process of building just before they discovered that the school they were using was closing in the fall.
“Though the school worked with us, it’s hard to have a total program when you only have a meeting place for five hours a week,” Willis said. “There are a lot of things we’ll be able to do now that we just couldn’t do before.”
And Willis said everything that has happened is thanks to God and to the Chilton Baptist Builders. The non-profit group comes together one week a year, always around Father’s Day, to help a worthy church get a running start on its building project.
“We try to frame the building, roof it, put all the doors and windows in it, and do the preliminary wiring,” said Talmadge Holbrook, logistics coordinator for the CBB. “Our goal is to get everything ready for the next crew to put in the sheetrock.”
Though the CBB, which has been building churches since 1983, is made up mostly of people from its association in Alabama, Talmadge said several of its volunteers come from other states.
“We ask members of every church we build for to join our ministry and, as a result, we have volunteers working with us from across the Southeast and the Midwest,” he said. “We are strictly volunteer and a lot of our people take their vacations and close their businesses to be a part of this ministry. Our group includes a variety of people, from school teachers to mechanics and also retired people. It’s just the way we can give back, and we do it to glorify God.”
Willis said Gary Morrow, a professional plumber and member of Gill Memorial Baptist Church in Marshall, has also been a vital part of the building effort.
“He heard about our project and called to volunteer his time for our plumbing and drain field,” he said. “He has been working here for weeks and had been an answer to prayer for us.”
Willis said the next step is to get the inside finished enough to have a rough inspection.
“Then in mid-July we have a volunteer group coming from McKinney, Texas, to do the bulk of the inside work,” he said.
Even with the volunteers, Willis said the project is still going to cost the congregation between $600,000 and $650,000. That includes materials, parking lot, a well and storm sewers. Though it may not be completely finished, the church’s goal is to be able to begin service in the new church by August.
“God got all of this together,” Willis said. “It has been God and His perfect timing and perfect way that has brought the right people together at the right time. We have seen miracle after miracle of His provision and we want to give all the praise and glory to Him.”