The Rev. Calvin Haney and members of his flock from St. Paul United Methodist Church off Washington Street in Gainesville arrived in a small town west of Birminghman, Ala., to answer God’s call.
The call centered around constructing a new home for Earcy Tucker of Sylvan Springs, Ala. His home was damaged by a tornado a few years ago.
“He lived in a four-room house and three of them were pretty much destroyed,” said the Rev. Calvin Haney, the church’s pastor. “He put a tarp over the one room left and lived there for two years without electricity or water.”
Haney, along with 13 other church members, installed sidings and doors, poured a cement pad for the air conditioner and painted the exterior of the house.
Though St. Paul has led numerous mission trips nationally and internationally, this trip marked the first time the church was involved in building a new home instead of repairing a damaged one. Teams from other churches and locals already constructed a large portion of the house before the Gainesville group arrived.
“This is the first time we were involved in building a new home,” Haney said. “Most of our work has been repairing damage done by storms to existing homes.
“This man’s home was almost a total loss.”
St. Paul’s leads one or two such mission trips every year. In the past few years, church members have traveled to disaster sites in Biloxi and Ocean Springs, Miss.; Americus, Ga.; Frakes, Ky.; Port Arthur, Texas; and Swan Quarter, N.C. Teams are typically comprised of 10-15 teen and adult volunteers and are usually coordinated with the United Methodist Committee on Relief, an international nonprofit that helps provide humanitarian relief after wars, conflicts and natural disasters.
“It is something that we learn in our faith,” said Robert Clayton, who organized the trip with the UMCOR. “It is our responsibility to go help others who have fallen on hard times, so we try to do so when we can locally, nationally and, occasionally, internationally. We see it as part of our Christian obligation and it is something we want to do.”
Haney said the owner of the house was found by a police officer, who was shocked by the conditions in which he was living. Eventually, he moved into a trailer provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency while waiting for the house to be finished.
The church team was unable to meet the man because of his work schedule and lack of transportation, but a couple of members visited his trailer to repair an electrical problem.
“The FEMA trailer was just clean and neat as could be,” Haney said. “I think he’ll take care of this house, and I think that it will change life for him completely.”
The house is expected to be completed in roughly three weeks.
Clayton said help is still needed in many disaster areas, even ones several years old. He hopes to organize more trips to the areas in the future.
St. Paul will host its Mission Awareness Day at the 10:30 a.m. service Sunday, in which representatives from agencies receiving the church’s support will give a brief description of their ministry. The church is at 404 Washington St. in Gainesville.
For more information visit www.st-paul-umc.org or call 770-532-2977.