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Building on Faith

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Nathan happily jumped from his bedroom into his closet and then back again, even though rain threatened overhead. Blessed are the imaginations of little boys. Imaginations are wonderful things, especially when aided by physical structures. In this case, the structure itself had not even existed at the beginning of that day!

It was the end of a long day of hard work for Bishop Tom Aitken of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA and the large volunteer crew. Although the weather for the ELCA “Build with the Bishop Day” was cool and cloudy, the spirits were warm and sunny. Bishop Aitken, and his staff members drove the 70 miles from Duluth to West Eveleth to help Angela Curry and volunteers for the North St. Louis County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity build the house at 201 W. 15th Street. 66 people (including 11 pastors, 11 senior high youth from Voyageur’s Lutheran Ministry, and 4 amazing chefs who delivered lunch right to the build site) worked elbow to elbow on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 to raise the walls of the home for Nathan and his mom, Angela. Many were regulars who volunteer on building projects year after year, and some of us were novices, who hoped we were not in the way when hammers started swinging!

Build with the Bishop day was a great success! In just one day the walls of the home were raised, the perimeter insulation was dug, and fellowship and laughter abounded between all the volunteers on site. And it kicked off a whole season of church volunteer days at the Eveleth build.

On Friday, June 26th an amazing volunteer crew from Hope Community Presbyterian Church in Virginia came out to the Eveleth build to roof the entire house! This small but powerful crew brought many skills, much experience, and a delicious lunch to the build. Working to finish before the intense afternoon heat (on one of the warmest days yet this summer!), volunteers set a quick pace and did a great job.

Then in July a joyful, multi-generational crew from the Resurrection Catholic Church came out to build. Father Charlie had led a devotion on site with the Care-a-vanners in June, and then he enthusiastically organized an entire church volunteer day just a few weeks later. They installed most of the insulation and exterior siding.

A youthful volunteer crew of Lutherans from across the entire Iron Range gathered at the Eveleth build to install sheetrock as part of our LCMS Build with the President day in July. This small but enthusiastic crew brought together Lutherans from as far away as Ely, Aitkin, and Brainerd. It was really wonderful to see men working alongside their sons and other young adults, to see them share their knowledge and experience in such a concrete way.

The following Saturday Pastor Dan Smith and Ossie Schock drove all the way over from Hibbing as representatives from Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. Pastor Smith had never been out to a build and so enthusiastically scheduled a volunteer day. This small but dedicated and skilled team was able to finish all the siding, working right alongside Angela and her family.

Thank you to all the pastors who have come to build on site. We especially thank Bishop Tom and Pastor Joel Rova-Hegener, Pastor Nathan Williams, Father Charles Flynn, President Fondow and Pastor Brad Felix, and Pastor Dan Smith for organizing these wonderful and productive volunteer days. We are excited to welcome volunteers from more churches, including Faith United in Iron and Messiah Lutheran Church, out to the build this August and September.

It’s wonderful to drive past the site like I did the other day and see siding on the house. I know the inside of the house is progressing too. Before long Nathan will be jumping from room to room, safe and at home, without the threat of rain over his head.