Monday, June 30, 2014

Bringing new life to an old Brooklyn church building

Yesterday and today began the renovation of Mt. Joy Baptist Church.  Mosaic Baptist Church (the church plant we are working with) is going to be renting this building for services beginning September 7th.  Mt. Joy Baptist, which has 8 remaining members, has graciously allowed them to rent for a very cheap price and is letting them do just about whatever they want to spruce the place up.  And renovation is greatly needed!

It was exciting to see Stephen and Sonya Stallard dream about the future as we begin this work.  They just recently found out they would be able to rent this building, so renovation work quickly made its way into the plans for Beeson's two weeks here.  My guiding principle is that we want to do whatever is most needed by the church - not what we feel is best for our experience here.  There are currently only a few members of Mosaic and, since they all have jobs, they can only help on the weekends. 

Today we were faced with a choice of either staying at the church long enough to get a good portion of the painting done before VBS tomorrow or leaving early so we could clean up and join Mosaic for Bible study.  Stephen was being gracious and allowing a choice since he knew I wanted our students to experience it.  It was clear what the greater need was, so I quickly told him that we would do what was best for Mosaic. We stayed and finished the job. 

Too often short-term mission trips become about the experience of those on the trip over and above the practical needs on the field.  Not only does this reflect backwards priorities, but it ironically distorts the experience of those on the trip.

In the end, we were all surprised to see how much interest the renovation generated in the community. Neighbors continued to drop by to see what was going on and they were relieved that the church hadn't been sold to yet another developer of condominiums.  Pastor Stephen made some great connections in the process.  One immediate result was the presence of two new women at the Bible study on our last night in Brooklyn. 

Tiffany Vincent painting like a veteran

Pastor Stephen Stallard (left) was able to meet several key people in the neighborhood 
as a visible renovation generated much interest.  This man offered to help in any 
way he could

Joseph Fowler and Lyle Lee having too much fun working on the outside doors 

Five years ago Stephen had never heard of Crown Heights (the Brooklyn
neighborhood where he now lives and is planting a church) when 
someone gave him this t-shirt.