By Daniel Brunty The Winston County Journal
A pillar of the Noxapater community, Liberty Baptist Church is receiving blessings in the form of a new parsonage.
Thanks to the kindheartedness and hard work of two mission groups and funds raised by the church, the new parsonage is now becoming a reality. The parsonage, which is the house provided by a church for its pastor, will be located right beside the old parsonage.
Liberty Baptist Church Pastor Jim Pender and wife Loretta will be the new residents of the parsonage upon its completion. Pastor Pender gave a brief history of the old parsonage, which will be removed after the construction of the new one.
“The original parsonage was built 60 years ago,” Pender said. “The original parsonage was built by church members from that time period. A lot of the wood that the old parsonage is constructed with came from the property itself. And some of the lumber came from the old Liberty school that was here years ago. So this will be just another phase of history here at Liberty.”
As with any older structure, the need for some type of maintenance arose. “A couple of years ago, we ran into the realization that the old parsonage was in need of a new roof, with it having so many problems,” Pender said. “The parsonage, being 60 years old, was bound to run into problems. Over a period of time, it was determined the most feasible thing would be to build a new pastorium. We started raising funds and wanted to get to a specific point in fundraising before we actually got started with the building program.”
Once the funds were acquired, the church would receive help in the form of the Mississippi Chapter of Campers on Mission, a national fellowship of Christian Campers who participate in mission activities. “Campers on Mission is mostly made up of retired but professional people such as electricians, carpenters, and others,” Pender said. “We even have a plumber who is actually a member from our church.”
Campers on a Mission decided to incorporate the help of another fellow missionary group to assist them with the project. “Mississippi Campers on Mission, which I am a member of, knew of and have worked with Westwood Tools of Ministry,” Pender said. “They recommended that the Westwood group to come in and do the framing as well as the roof and shingles for the project.”
Westwood Tools of Ministry is based out of the Westwood Baptist Church in Alabaster, AL. The group is comprised of several churches that travel on missions to assist other Baptist churches all over the United States.
The churches that comprise Westwood Tools of Ministry besides Westwood are County Line Baptist Church in Mississippi, Liberty Baptist Church in Columbiana, AL, Indian Grave Baptist Church in Billingsley, AL, Hillsboro Baptist Church in Hillsboro, and St. Thomas the Apostle in Montevallo, AL.
The leadership team for Westwood Tools of Ministry are Steve & Carol Carter and Dennis & Janet Dickey. Carol Carter spoke of the group’s work and background. “Our group is actually a branch off of my home church,” Carter said. “My dad actually started their mission group in 1978. They have helped with construction once a year since 1978. A few years ago several of us from our church went with their group, and when the interest grew we broke off so we could do twice as much.”
Westwood Tools of Ministry has been constructing projects for years using non-skilled labor of all ages as a base of their workforce. “One thing that most people find interesting is that other than my dad, none of the rest of us are carpenters, and none of us having anything to do with construction at all,” Carter said. “We have a deputy, a retired UPS worker, a traffic engineer, a lawn care, and many others. Our youngest member is 10 years old and the oldest is 79 years old. Our main goal is to construct what needs to be constructed.
Carter also spoke of the group’s work on the new parsonage. “We chose to come here for our next project,” Carter said. “This was just a slab when we got here Saturday. So we framed it up and the goal is to have the roof and shingles by the time we leave this Saturday.”
Besides the two missions, Liberty received a lot of assistance from their congregation with items such as clearing the brush to lay the foundation and providing financial assistance. “This whole project is basically being built by volunteer labor,” Pender said. “When the roof and shingles are on, the construction up until that point will have been debt-free.”
With the parsonage designed to provide a home for the pastor, it had to be built in a way to suit future pastors and their families. “With a pastorium, you never know the size of your family that is coming in,” Pender said. “We are trying to build it in such a way as not to be overly sized, but large enough. The actual structure will have three bedrooms with an office study and a two-car garage. It will be 2270 square feet of living space.”
With no estimated time of completion, the parsonage will be a work in progress or the weeks to come. Upon its completion, Liberty Baptist Church will soon be able to provide their pastors with a glorious and blessed living space.
“Hopefully once this is done, it will be a house that will serve the needs of the church for many years to come,” Pender said.