Darlington Church gets helping hand

The volunteer crew from the National Baptist Laymen's Movement at Grace Temple Apostolic Church of Darlington. Photo by Samantha Lyles

The volunteer crew from the National Baptist Laymen’s Movement at Grace Temple Apostolic Church of Darlington.
Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

When the massive rains and lingering floodwaters struck South Carolina in October of 2015, many homes and businesses suffered damage, and houses of God were not exempt from these troubles. Grace Temple Apostolic Church on Jordan Street in Darlington took a hard hit, with the water penetration causing roof leaks and flooring damage. Though church members raised funds to purchase repair materials, they didn’t have the money to hire contractors to fix the damages.

When the call for help went out from Grace Temple, the Internet responded, and the National Baptist Laymen’s Movement sent with a volunteer labor crew comprised of skilled tradesmen and willing helpers from as far away as Kansas and Mississippi.

“We bring our national and state laymen in to remodel and rebuild, and help people that were affected by the flood,” says Rev. Samuel Fulmore, Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina. “We look for the most vulnerable people, the ones that really need help the most, and we heard that this church was in need.”

The volunteers set to work on the roof and flooring last Tuesday, and Fulmore said it should take about two weeks to get the church ship-shape again. Two weeks might seem like a long time to be away from work and family, but volunteers say the good spirits and fellowship of these Laymen’s mission trips make it well worth the effort.

“Usually this takes precedence over nearly everything else – except graduations,” says Jesse Horton of Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi.

“We have no problem (assembling labor teams). We get volunteers from all over,” says Harold Simmons, president emeritus of the National Baptist Laymen’s Movement. “It’s good relationships, good fellowship, and you’re working to help people. The benefit is when you see the countenance of the person you’ve helped.”

Fentress Smith, Grace Temple’s repair project director, says the 55 year-old church and its 66-person congregation are very grateful for the help provided by these volunteers.

“Churches can’t get FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) help because of the separation of church and state… and we just paid the church off so we didn’t want to get into any more debt through loans,” explains Smith. “And this group said they would provide free labor if we provided the materials, so we started fundraising to get them everything they would need – and here they are!”

To learn more about these programs, contact Rev. Samuel Fulmore at 843-453-9005 or email him at church3208@gmail.com

Author: Duane Childers

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