By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Construction of a new church for the congregation at Mt. Olive Church in the Altoona area has been a long process, but it has made great progress in the last two weeks, as a crew “Carpenters for Christ” went to work framing the building.
Dave Tidwell heads the Carpenters for Christ group based at Cherry Street Baptist Church in Attalla. He’s been on site with a group of workers from Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, Louisiana, Kansas, Arizona and other states at work on Mt. Olive’s church building.
The new church is being built across U.S. 278 from the current location of the church. The existing building is very old, according to members of the congregation. “Falling in” was the phrase used to describe the conditions.
Jim and Denise Lackey were on hand June 8 as the carpenters worked on the building – taking advantage of a good weather day after some rain interruptions during the preceding week. Tidwell said the weather had put the crew a bit behind.
“We should be putting on shingles today,” Tidwell said Saturday.
Denise said on the previous Monday, there’d been nothing but a slab on the hillside, workers were putting a roof on the building that Saturday.
“It’s went from nothing to this,” she said.
Jim Lackey said the congregation had been saving money for 15 or 20 years with the hope of eventually building a new facility.
Tidwell said churches like Mt. Olive, with a small congregation, often have a hard time raising the money needed to build.
Carpenters for Christ teams work to build churches in many areas. In fact, Tidwell said the build here at Mt. Olive and a project in March at Keener were the closest to home projects the group has done.
The teams donate their labor, giving churches a great savings over conventional building.
Tidwell said on a conventional build, the cost per square foot could be between $85 and $125. With the assistance of Carpenters for Christ, that cost can be reduced to approximately $50 per square foot.
Tidwell said Mt. Olive Church has served the community for a long time, and needs the new building and the room to grow that it will provide.
“This is going to improve their ability to minister to their community,” Tidwell said. “That’s a blessing to us, to be a part of that.”
Tidwell said his group would be working at Mt. Olive through June 14. Another crew was expected in June 13, to do electrical work and another after that to do finishing work.
Tidwell said he began working with Carpenters for Christ based at First Baptist Church of Talladega. The group became so large that it was difficult for its members to travel and do projects together, so it split and the Cherry Street Baptist group was formed.
After many years with the group, Tidwell said he handles planning and logistics and lets others hammer the nails.
“We’ve got a team from Missouri, about 13 guys, and they’re all under 30. We needed them,” Tidwell joked. “None of us are getting any shorter in the tooth.”
And those young workers need to be part of this kind of ministry, he said, to carry it into the future.
Carpenters for Christ teams work with churches before agreeing to help with projects. Tidwell said there must be a need for the group’s assistance, and a commitment from the church congregation to take care of their workers when they come to a community to work on a church.
The Lackeys and many other members at Mt. Olive have been doing just that – feeding workers and doing their laundry.
Tidwell said the team usually does a spring project and a summer project. The spring effort typically is a smaller project, ad addition or renovation job, he said, and those projects usually are co-ed. During the summer, Tidwell explained, the teams take on larger, heavy construction project like the build at Mt. Olive, and use male-only teams.