This summer in Peñitas, Texas, several church groups have joined together to build a new home through Buckner Domestic Missions for a family who participates in the Buckner Family Hope Center, but the project actually began a couple months ago over 480 miles away in the parking lot of First Baptist Church in Lufkin.
For the last two months, members of First Baptist Church gathered on Saturday mornings to build the foundation, floor and walls for the home in 8-foot modules. Once completed, they shipped the modules to the Rio Grande Valley where it was re-assembled and construction on the roof, dry walls and interior elements continued on site.
This is the fifth Buckner home First Baptist Church has funded and began construction in its parking lot. The idea sprouted seven years ago as a way to engage more of their church body in the project.
“I think we always try to equip our members where they feel used and called and where they can benefit the world around them. And that takes a lot of different shapes,” said Walker McWilliams, associate pastor/minister of missions. “This particularly is just a natural extension of what some of our guys want to do and some of our ladies help out too. You help a family in need, you help a great organization and you get to spend a couple of Saturdays building. It was a no-brainer.”
The congregation was hopeful that those who couldn’t spend a week in the Valley, would spend weekends at the church working on it at home. Beginning the build in their church parking lot has been a tremendous success.
Up to 50 volunteers on any given Saturday worked on the house. In addition, others in the church provided meals for the workers, gave financially toward the cost of materials or prayed for the build, crew and family who will receive the home. It resulted in most of the church members being involved in some capacity.
“Not many churches can get a high attendance in church missions,” said Samuel Hutchinson, senior construction and agriculture coordinator for Buckner Domestic Missions. “They have the full capacity of their church involved in the project, which is incredible, and because of that, it helps us achieve a better home for the build.”
Members and staff of First Baptist Church worked with Samuel and other Buckner staff to create plans that would accommodate the unconventional build and transport to the Valley but still meet Buckner standards.
“It works well with this team because they have a high skill set in home build and construction,” said Samuel. “They took our plan and improved on it, and their attention to detail produces a quality product. They are very dedicated to assuring that the work they do is superior. This church specifically operates with excellence and glorifies God. It’s a beautiful thing.”
In just a few years, the operation has expanded from just a couple of guys with a tool belt to the whole church involvement. And the congregation has also increased their tools as well. Now they have a giant trailer, stocked with any tool they could possibly need both at the church parking lot or down in the Valley when they finish the house.
And for some of the volunteers, finishing the house is their favorite part.
“What I enjoy is when you hand the keys to the family and it’s done,” said Mark Morris, a member of First Baptist Church who has worked on all five homes. “Just the smiles and the tears on their faces when it’s done, you can’t beat that. All the long hours, all the hard work, all the planning, it all comes together right there and makes it worth it. We’ve met some really neat families in the Valley, and it’s a treasure to be able to do it.”
If your church is interested in helping vulnerable families, click here to discover all the ways your church can engage with Buckner.