HUNLOCK TWP. – Funded and built entirely by congregation members, Roaring Brook Baptist Church dedicated its renovated Hunlock Creek church building Sunday.
The Rev. Dan Brubaker said the congregation completed final renovations, well, just Saturday, feeling the squeeze of a Sunday dedication deadline.
Church members began raising money and planning construction in 1999.
With ground-breaking in 2008, construction moved slowly as fundraising provided for the improvements.
With the help of Brent Howard, a carpenter from Church Care Construction, a nonprofit program of the Baptist Church Planters, the Roaring Brook congregation began building the addition.
Howard, his wife, Michelle, and their two children attended the dedication, having taken the day away from work on a church in Memphis, N.Y.
Howard's family lives in a fifth-wheel camper, traveling the country to help build churches.
"God obviously has enabled us to be comfortable in a fifth wheel," Howard said.
When Howard got to Hunlock Creek in 2008, Roaring Brook members had raised $300,000 to begin construction. They laid a new foundation for the existing building, now the sanctuary, and extended the first floor for the foyer and the basement to include a large community room.
"We touched every part of this building," Howard said.
He said he worked until the new church was usable, right about the time money ran out and construction stopped.
For the next few years, church members volunteered, working on surface improvements when they could.
Danny Brubaker, the pastor's son and a general construction contractor by trade, said he spent his nights and weekends installing carpet, fixtures and trim.
Roaring Brook's history is one of great dedication and sacrifice.
Amy Rader, 21, who said she began attending Roaring Brook as a girl around 14 or 15 years ago, said she has grown to love the church's strong community.
"Most churches have it," Rader said. "But we have something special."
Danny said it was important for the church to complete the project without borrowing money. He said that, determined to see construction through, the congregation wanted the church building with nothing, like monthly mortgage payments, holding them down.
During construction, the congregation chose to preserve some of the oldest parts of the 132-year-old church.
The organ and some of the pews remain. Stained-glass windows were removed and fit into contemporary frames. A round stained-glass depiction of Jesus praying in Gethsemane rests in its original place behind the altar, framed and back lit as a reminder of Christ's sacrifice.
Daniel Hudzik, a building committee member, said when they were leveling for the parking lot, they milled the cleared pine trees into trim and baseboards.
The 100-plus members still sit on wooden pews. There is no elaborate landscaping and they have a gravel parking lot, but everything they have, they paid for themselves.
The total renovations cost was around $425,000.
Brubaker said the church members did not want an elaborate structure, but rather a finished building to meet their needs and a base to reach out to their community.