The New Beginnings story began four years ago. In spring of 2007, St. Paul’s UCC Fleetwood learned that the home adjacent to the church property was about to be placed on the real estate market. Even though the church had an interim pastor and was in the search process for a senior pastor, the congregation voted to purchase the property thus allowing for future expansion. Just what to do with the house and property in the meantime was deferred until a new minister was in place.
In October of 2007, the congregation called the Rev. Patrick W. Morris, then senior pastor of St. Paul’s UCC, Amityville to fill their senior pastor’s position. Assuming the leadership role in late December, Pastor Morris began his ministry. At this point, there was no clear vision as to what was to be done with the Bingaman House, named for its former owners.
In the summer of 2008, Jim Wright, a member of St. Paul’s brought the idea of using the Bingaman house as a mission house to the consistory. Explaining how First UCC in Hamburg had a mission house, he proposed using the house for this purpose. While the consistory considered this possibility, other needs took precedence.
When no other ideas for the Bingaman house had been proposed, the Mission Committee June of 2009 set up a task force to investigate further Mission House idea. Timing remained an issue, and once again the idea was postponed until the outcome of two grants was known. Finally in the spring of 2010, the Mission Committee received approval from the consistory to take the Mission House proposal to the congregation. Informational meetings were held. Pastor Fred Diehl and members of First UCC Mission House Board came to share how their mission house has positively impacted guest families and their congregation.
At a congregational meeting on June 6th, 2010, a motion to renovate the annex property for use as a Mission House was passed. A Mission House Fund was established. Within a month, donations of over ten thousand dollars were received to start the project. A Mission House Board was established to oversee the selection and on going support of the guest family.
That summer, a six man renovation team was created to oversee the construction tasks on the home. St. Paul’s members volunteered to do the electrical work, plumbing overhaul, installation of a new HVAC system, numerous carpentry projects and painting. A group of members organized and set up the house with all the necessary accessories to make the home comfortable for our guest families.
All in all, the almost year long renovations has been completed by volunteers from the congregation. The basement was completely gutted and the walls were dry locked. The kitchen and bathroom walls were gutted and dry walled. After the painting was completed, vinyl flooring was installed in the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. New kitchen and bathroom cabinets were next. The hard wood floors in the remaining areas of the home were refinished. The youth group spent last year’s mission trip retreat tending to the flower beds and shrubbery and will complete the outside work again this year.
Another way the congregation has embraced this mission project has been through donation of appliances, furniture, and other household items. The refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer, kitchen set, sofa, chairs, bedroom furniture, and other household items have all been donated by members or friends of the congregation.
It has taken this outpouring of support in many different ways to make New Beginnings possible. “I am always amazed at how the Spirit moves in the church. St. Paul’s had an empty house and struggled to discern what to do with it. And them comes God nudging and the next thing you know, New Beginnings is born.” summed up Senior Pastor. In order to maintain a family in the mission house for a six month stay, continued financial support will be needed. To learn more about New Beginnings and how you can support this exciting mission outreach for the Fleetwood community call the church office at 610-944-0406.