Religious experience

Bedford Baptist Church
to mark building’s 20th year

The church was built in 10 days
by the Carpenters for Christ

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

In July 1973, the Bedford Baptist Church in Bedford, Ky., purchased six acres of land on Hwy. 42 because leaders realized in order to grow they needed a bigger building. It wasn’t until late in 1985, however, that church members decided they needed to get serious about that building. But the problem was how to build one with limited finances.
The problem was solved when the church contacted a group called Carpenters for Christ, an Alabama-based group of volunteers that took on building projects each summer. The group agreed to take on the project, which was their largest at that point, and build the entire church in just 10 days.

Bedford Baptist Church

Photo provided

Alabama-based Carpenters for Christ
brought more than 100 men who gave
up their vacations to volunteer.

On April 15, the church will celebrate the 20th anniversary of that amazing accomplishment. Sunday school classes will be shortened, and the regular morning service will begin at 11:45 a.m. to finish in time to have lunch. At 1 p.m., Dr. Tom Wilkes, the current pastor, will host a multimedia presentation including a video and slides. There will also be speakers to reminisce about the event and share their memories of the church. All past members of the church are encouraged to attend, and the public is more than welcome.
Bill Henderson, a church member and one of the locals who also helped with the construction, said, “It was just fascinating to see the whole project unfold.”
Fern Ward, another volunteer at the project, said, “We would go by the site, and then two days later – wow! It was incredible the amount of work done each day”
Henderson explained that prior to the arrival of the Carpenters for Christ, the local church had to have the foundation and the plumbing ready and all supplies had to be on the site. This included lumber, windows, doors, trusses, brick and mortar. Members of Meta Baptist Church in Pikeville, Ky., came and volunteered to pour the slab foundation.
Sleeping arrangements also had to be provided for up to 100 men. The Trimble County High School staff allowed the men to sleep, shower and dine in the school.
On June 19, 1986, two large tour buses with about 60 men arrived on the site. Men from other Carpenter for Christ projects arrived later that day, and the group swelled to more than 100 men.
“There was a dentist, lawyers, pharmacists, a millionaire, and men from all walks of life who had volunteered to give up their vacation to help build our new church,” Henderson said.

Bedford Baptist Church Members

Photo by Konnie McCollum

Celebration planners include (from left)
Pastor Tom Wilkes, Mary Browning,
Bill Henderson and Fern Ward.

The men worked 15-16 hours a day to frame and brick the 12,585-square-feet building. At that time, a building that size would have cost approximately $50 per square feet for a construction company to build, for a total cost of about $630,000. Carpenters for Christ helped the Bedford Baptist Church save more than two-thirds of that total, Bro. Mike Caudill, the pastor during the construction, said during a news report on the project.
But it wasn’t just the men who worked on the project; the women of the church furnished desserts and did the laundry for the men working on the project.
Mary Browning, another church member, recalled the women of the Sunday School going to the high school every morning to collect bags and bags of dirty laundry.
“We would go get the dirty things, wash them, and hang them out to dry, make any repairs and send it back. The men really appreciated it,” she said.
Ward said, “We tried to make a different dessert every day; we made pies, cakes, cobblers and cookies, but the one thing the men were the most tickled by was the homemade strawberry shortcake and ice cream.”
Henderson said the men prayed every morning before they started and took time off on Sundays and Wednesday evenings for regular worship services. He said the friendships that were made and the socializing that took place will never be forgotten by all the participants in that 10-day church raising.
After the volunteers left, church members still had to complete the interior of the church with dry wall and painting, and they still had to buy the pews and other furniture.
“Before the men left, however, every person that worked on the project signed the boards put in place for the altar, and their signatures are still there under the carpet today,” said Henderson.
The final touches were added to the building in April 1987, and the first Sunday service was held on April 19, 1987.

Back to April 2007 Articles.



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