Two Hammer Slammer Teams are Better Than One


Habitat for Humanity teams from Strawbridge UMC, Kingwood and First UMC, Conroe recently came to the aid of a family anxious to have their own home. This externally-focused project demonstrates how vital congregations are building relationships as well as houses.
Collaboration was the name of the game in the latest construction effort cosponsored by members of Strawbridge UMC, Kingwood and First UMC, Conroe. Robert and Shawna Edwards watched and helped with eagerness as their house was built in the Habitat Cedar Creek subdivision in southeast Conroe.
Dynamic “Duo” Makes it Happen
“Since both churches have co-sponsored previous Habitat builds with other partners, we decided to name our first church-to-church partnership house the Methodists United Habitat House,” says FUMC Conroe leader David Smythia.
To accommodate the full sponsorship price tag of $55,000, each church had to raise $27,500 over a two year period. David adds, “we had special offerings for Habitat and sold handmade Father’s Day cards with a Habitat theme. Strawbridge collected funds through Advent and spring mission fundraising and from special activities highlighting Habitat For Humanity.”
Once finances are in place, the next tough resource find is a volunteer to lead the construction effort. “After much prayer and promises of help from other leaders,” David says, “I took on the construction lead role for the first time. Thankfully, SUMC Habitat Coordinator Howard Deterding coordinated the volunteers from both churches so I could focus on construction and workday planning.”
The project teams raised the walls on January 4, and were blessed with good weather that allowed the construction to progress well without too many “do overs.” FUMCC’s Mission Outreach Director Nancy Heinz says all volunteer work was completed on June 11 on schedule, thanks to crews that worked most Wednesdays and two Saturdays a month. “In all, we had 80 church volunteers that worked on the house,” David reports. “While 40 of those came only once, we needed everyone that worked. Eleven came to more than 10 workdays, and we had help from Habitat partners working on their sweat equity towards a Habitat house of their own.  It was a special moment to dedicate the house on June 14 alongside new home owners Robert and Shawna Edwards.”
According to David the new homeowners are more than thankful for the hearts, hands and spirits that worked together to provide their home. “Financially this will be such a blessing for them,” he shares. “The rent they have been paying takes a large chunk of their monthly income. They appreciate all the volunteers that helped to build the house and those who so graciously provided lunch. They are thankful for the congregations that gave generously to provide the money to sponsor the house through Habitat. This was a wonderful way to show God's love and they hope it continues for others who need a hand up.”
In Special Memory
Notes David, “Sadly, Howard Deterding passed away before contributing to this article. He was dedicated to mission outreach and chaired SUMC’s Mission team for many years.” He adds, “Howard had a great passion for Habitat as well as other missions at Strawbridge.  He was a good worker who always had a smile on his face and missed Habitat workdays only when he had a chance to visit his grandkids. We all mourn his passing.”
The team suffered another loss during the spring months. Shares David, “One of our volunteers was Mackie Brown, an older gentleman who walked with a cane. He ran the chop-saw and cut a lot of the lumber for the house. He also taught us a lot about tools and helped us work safely. He passed away in his sleep April 11. He came to most of the workdays before that, including April 9. He was a good man and we will certainly miss him.”
Blessings for All
David shares, “What I learned is that God provides. We never knew how many Habitat partners would show up to work on their sweat equity. Early in the build we occasionally had a few people show up. Several times I did not have enough volunteers signed up for a workday, yet on those days we had 10 or more Habitat partners show up and we got the work done. When we were raising the roof trusses, God sent an angel in the form of Matt Stuckey. Matt normally works out of town. He is a very capable carpenter and can work up high. He was able to make three straight workdays when we were raising the roof trusses to help us get things done right. He could not make any other workdays.”
Adds David, “I could not have led the construction without the help of Larry Douglas, the affiliate construction manager, and my friend Chuck Abernathy of The Woodlands UMC. Chuck shared his knowledge and skills with me over the past few years as we worked on three other Habitat houses.”
The mission of Habitat for Humanity is: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Habitat partners put in 350 hours of sweat equity (100 hours on others’ houses) and buy their house with a 20-year, 0% interest mortgage. Their Methodist teammates enjoyed helping make that happen.