Nailbenders lend skill to Bethabara Baptist
The Nailbenders for Jesus have been at Bethabara Baptist Church for a week and they blessed the congregation with more than just a finely constructed new church interior, but a community ministry as well.
The Nailbenders are a volunteer group of retired men and women who feel called to help small and medium-sized congregations with new construction projects and additions.
"We serve throughout Arkansas and seek the Lord's will in meeting the needs of churches we serve," said Charlie Zimmerman, lead man and organizer.
"It would have taken us years to do what the Nailbenders did in a week," said Pastor Jarrid McGrew. "The men used their building skills to frame out the building for us, while the women went around the community taking gifts to shut-ins and the nursing home, and visiting with people to invite them to church."
The Nailbenders were formed in 1988 as part of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and are quick to respond to the needs of churches throughout the state. They commit to doing at least seven projects a year and are quick to respond to natural disaster and emergency needs.
The Bethabara Baptist Church was established in 1885 and is four miles outside of Lake City, on county road 505. The church has sustained damages through the years from tornados and high winds. Additions and repairs have been made as needed, but the ravages of time have taken their toll on the church structure.
The congregation voted to build a new church and started a building fund several years ago. They were able to lay the concrete foundation for the church and construct the steel post building shell for the new church building, south of the existing church facility. They purchased lumber for the interior of the new structure and the Nailbenders provided nails, screws, glue, labor and the use of their own building equipment.
The wives of the Nailbenders call themselves "Grannies on the Go," and they bring their own trailer complete with sewing machines and materials for making lap robes, caddies, neck pillows and bracelets to give as gifts while visiting in the community. The ladies go out "mugging," as they call it, and give out coffee mugs and ask people to come to church.
The Nailbenders arrived at Bethabara on Thursday, Nov. 5, with their equipment trucks and personal campers. They work from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The church provided their lunch each day, and the team provided their own breakfast and supper. They often sit around a campfire at night after their day is finished. The team worked through Friday, Nov. 13.
"The new facility will serve as our main building and is phase one of our total church plan," Rev. McGrew said. "It will include a sanctuary/fellowship hall, large kitchen, two bathrooms with showers, eight classrooms, closets and storage room. The 80'x56' food structure can seat 125 people at capacity. We plan to tear down the old structure when the new one is finished. We hope to move in this summer. Stage two would be to build a new sanctuary to seat 100-250 people, with additional classrooms and office and use this building for a family life center."
Rev. McGrew is a bi-vocational pastor and has served at Bethabara for two years. He and his wife Britni have two boys, Chace, 9, and Carder, 3.
The 12 Nailbenders come from all across the state and area and included: Charlie Zimmerman, Dover; Leon Murphree, Bee Branch; Charlie Walker, Beebe; Johnny Swafford, Alma; John Criley, Chidester; Billy Keys, DeValls Bluff; Jim Hower, Alton, Mo.; Jon Jett, Cherokee Village; Carrol Sinyard, Russelville; Clayton Williams, Whitehall; Wayne Carter, Little Rock; and Sherman Owens, Mt. Vernon.