By Fred Koenig
When Woodlandville UMC became involved in the Conference SERVE day of mission a few years ago, it started a relationship with the Harrisburg school that continues to grow stronger.
“This school is what keeps this little town alive,” said member Billy Enochs. “Helping here has been a great blessing to us.”
The school is currently in the midst of a major renovation. They relocated a mobile classroom, and needed a staircase and deck on it before it could be useable. They tried hiring local contractors, but they couldn’t get to it for about four months. Then the school called Woodlandville UMC, and had the deck in place within a couple of weeks.
Wally Rantz designed the deck, which was 48 feet long and eight feet wide. In addition to the four-foot deck, there’s also a ramp, with a resting spot half-way up, for a total length of about 50 feet.
Several men from the church worked on the deck, with about three working on it at any given time. It took them about a week to construct it. As they were building the deck, some of the lumber was stolen, which caused a minor delay. It was still completed at the beginning of the school year.
Enochs is a farmer who is raising cattle, and bales a lot of hay in the summer. Many projects, like the deck, come up in the summertime, when he is busiest. But he makes do.
“It’s hard to do stuff like this is summer, but I think maybe God appreciates it more when it’s hard,” he said.
The first weekend of September, the whole church of Woodlandville went to Harrisburg school to tackle a large list of projects.
“We have so many good tradesmen in our church, we are really blessed,” Enochs said. “People know we are there now, and when they have needs they call us.”
The men have been involved in many other projects in the community. They did home repairs for a single mother in Boonville who has a young autistic child, and put up a fence in her back yard so the child has a safe place to play.
Another single mother found a job opportunity near hear parents in Kansas City, and had to move. They prepped her house to get it ready to sell, doing drywall work and putting a new roof on it.
“I guess we done a pretty good job, because the first person who looked at it bought it,” Enochs said.
In the front lawn of Woodlandville, they constructed a 40’ x 80’ picnic shelter, to be available for use to anyone in the community.
Rev. Karen Alden, pastor of Woodlandville UMC, is impressed with how much the men of the church give of themselves to local mission.
“I realize that people working in missions is not unusual but in the rural area, people often have jobs that won’t allow them to leave to go to some of the missions away from home,” she said. “Many are farmers and have to be close to home. However, they do their part where they are.”
Another project has been very close to home.
“Our hardest project has been the church building itself,” said Bill Lewis. Over the course of the last several years, it has gone through a door-to-door renovation. Plumbing, electrical work, dry wall, flooring – there was little in the church that hasn’t been worked over.
“We made a coal bin into a classroom,” Rantz said. “It took 40 gallons of leveler on the floor.”
The church also received access ramps, push-button doors and main floor bathrooms.
“People from age 6 to 75 were working on the church,” Enochs said. “We did it with all volunteer labor, and no borrowed money.”
Alden agrees that it was a remarkable process.
“I am just so impressed with this group of men,” she said. “They are just willing to pitch in where needed and get it done!”
Enochs said that one of the Sunday school teachers was apologetic about asking for a wall to be moved to make more space.
“Outgrowing your space is a good problem to have,” he said. “I told her I hope she asks for something every week.” Enochs remembers there only being two or three children in the congregation 15 years ago. Now they average 24 a Sunday.
The renovation on the building has gone so well that now people from Columbia come out to Woodlandville to use the country church for weddings.
Although Woodlandville UMC engages in the community in a big way, it’s heart for mission doesn’t stop in its neighborhood. The church bought 500 chickens with houses for the Carolyn Belshe Orphanage in Mozambique two years ago, and every year gives at least $3,000 to $6,000 to the orphanage.