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Carpenters for Christ arrive in Colleton County for third time in recent years

This past week marks the third time since 2012 a group of volunteers have left their mark in Colleton County. The Autauga Baptist Association Carpenters for Christ traveled once again from their home base of Prattville Alabama bringing along 50 men from five states to help. Some of the volunteers are even locals who have been touched by the volunteer work completed in Colleton County previously. This year’s mission trip was to build a new church in Islandton, a community located 17 miles southwest of Walterboro. The congregation of United Faith Ministries, a nondenominational church, have been meeting in the Moselle Church of God not too far away from their soon to be new home located on Highway 63 in Islandton.

According to Butch Bishop, President of the Autauga Association Carpenters for Christ, the group of 50 volunteers comes from all walks of life. “We have teachers, coaches, music ministers, welders, mechanics and really about every occupation you can think of. Not many of our volunteers have a ton of experience with carpentry but we manage to get the job done,” said Bishop of the group of volunteers. Each worker pays $135 to come along on the trip. Those funds are spent on gas, replenishing tools when needed and to put on a banquet for the group and their wives once they return home. The men each receive a shirt and hat for coming to work for the nine days they are on a project. When they arrive, the foundation has already been poured but they work hours upon hours to make the space into a place of worship to bless the community.

This year, the group arrived to two old marine barracks from Parris Island, a marine training camp in Beaufort. The buildings had been torn apart and moved from Beaufort to their new home on Highway 63 where a crew had also already put the outer shell of the buildings back together. The volunteer workers spent their nine days wiring the buildings, installing HVAC, fixing the ceiling tiles, building a stage and sound booth, adding a porch to the worship building and installing two handicap ramps. When asked why the group chose to come back to Colleton County again, Bishops answer was simple but flattering. “Over the last 14 years, we have come to South Carolina 12 times. Of those 12 times, three have been to Colleton County. We have been blessed to get to know the people here who have joined out group and travel with us every summer to pay it forward. We have been provided meals this past week by the people we have previously helped at Bennetts Point and at Great Swamp. Some local lodges and other groups have also come out to feed us. This community really knows how to pull it together to support our efforts. We are treated well and the people here really appreciate it,” said Bishop.

During their last night on the property, the men cleaned up the construction debris and removed it from the newly renovated worship area to hold their famous “carpenter night”, an evening when they are able to worship together with each other and the congregation they are assisting. During the service a gift was given to the members of United Faith Ministries. One of the traveling volunteers, a cabinet maker, secretly made a new pulpit for the group and a monetary donation was also given to help the group continue improvements on their new location. Head Deacon and chairman of the building committee, Gerald Bailey, said receiving the gifts felt great. “They really blessed us with things they didn’t have to do,” said Bailey. The next step is raising more funds to continue to make more renovations so the church can start meeting in their new location. If you are interested in knowing more about this project or making a donation to help the church move forward with renovations, please call Gerald Bailey at 843-893-7851.

Christie Slocum (503 Posts)