Carpenters bring church to life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2012

Project manager Dave Tidwell and volunteer James Whatley pause for a break during construction of what will be the new Florala Westside Baptist Church. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News


The barren concrete pad of the former Florala Westside Baptist Church is no more thanks to the work of the volunteer organization “Carpenters for Christ.”

A fire in May 2009 destroyed the building, but crews are now working to rebuild a new, bigger church.

Pastor Phil McMillian said the crews arrived a week ago and were delayed a bit because of the rain; however, as the week progressed, so did the work on the building.

On Tuesday, crews were hanging the last remaining trusses for the roof while crews simultaneously worked to install electrical wiring and roof decking.

McMillian and other church members could hardly contain their excitement at the project’s progress.

“It took two years to get them here, and it was a long process to do, but it sure is worth it,” McMillian said.

The crew was headed by Dave Tidwell and headquartered at the Cherry Street Church in Attala. Tidwell said the new building will be 1,200 square-foot larger than the old building, coming in right at 5,000 square-feet.

“We’ve got six states represented at last count,” Tidwell said of the volunteers from CFC program who assist in a “construction need for the Lord’s work” by attempting to “build the body of Christ world wide through physically constructing orphanages, shelters and worship centers.” Those using the program are only required to provide materials for the project and to assist in securing supplies to help feed the volunteers.

The furthest group of volunteers came from Pike County, Ill., he said.

Volunteers were housed and fed by members of Florala’s First Baptist Church; however, McMillian said donations – both monetarily and supply-wise – rolled in after news broke of the group’s impending arrival.

“Our plan, when we leave here, we hope to have the steeple up, the shingles on and possibly the doors and windows in,” Tidwell said. “We want to be able to lock the door and hand over the key.”

The crew is scheduled to leave today; however, a second group of volunteers are set to arrive just after Easter to begin the second phase of construction.

Church member Jerry Thames called the project “a blessing.”

“I’m just happy to say that when I drive by, I can look at that finished building and say I had a hand in helping do the Lord’s work,” Thames said.