CUMBERLAND — The first service in New Life Church’s new building was slated to begin at 10 a.m. last Sunday.
But Mark Kiner was sure he’d be there well before that.
“I’ll be there at 8, because I’ll be so excited,” he joked.
Kiner, a landscaper, was planting a thornless hawthorne tree at his new church home Sept. 29. That’s the day New Life Church gained a building at 501 N. Buck Creek Road in Cumberland, all in the course of 24 hours.
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People gathered around a foundation and raised pre-assembled walls together that morning, and a new worship space began to quickly take shape.
New Life’s pastor, the Rev. Michael Faulk, was holding up the southeast corner with a little help from son Jonah, 3.
“It was unreal,” Faulk said. “If I think about it too hard, … it almost gets overwhelming.”
The church raising is made possible by Church in a Day, a program of the United Pentecostal Church International. It guides churches through the site preparation at a building site — land grading, drainage, a foundation and other infrastructure needs — so that a focused team of volunteers can then converge and construct. Pre-assembled walls go up in the morning, and the process continues through drywall, paint, shingles, windows and other elements until carpet is installed and furniture is in place.
The volunteer crews are largely made up of members of other UPCI churches, though some of the workers they recruit are not members but have the needed expertise. Sometimes a church with a few members knowledgeable in a particular task will have a niche project at the builds, such as tile or insulation.
Cumberland building inspector Chuck Coonce was on hand Thursday to make sure the stages of the process were completed satisfactorily.
“It’s very unusual to build any type of project in a day,” he said, but by being there on a continual basis, “they’re able to have answers and keep moving.”
New Life opened three and a half years ago with seven people, meeting in rented space at 33 E. Main St. in New Palestine.
Faulk said the church has grown to 30 people now and had outgrown that space. But during the congregation’s journey, obstacles have been followed by miracles, he said.
One break came about two years ago, when an accountant called Faulk and told of a client wanting to donate a duplex. The church received it and sold it, adding the proceeds to the money it had been saving for its next site.
A few weeks after that, someone else called Faulk about helping the church find land. He had breakfast with the owner of the Buck Creek site, and the church was able to buy the 4.5 acres for $30,000.
There was brush to clear, drainage to address, fill dirt to haul in and a turn lane to build, Kiner said. But with the prep done, a large team of volunteers from sister churches showed up Thursday to swing hammers or carry in food, from white boxes of morning doughnuts to pulled pork and German chocolate cake for supper.
A small section of bleachers allowed people to drop by and watch. Others minded the tables under a nearby tent. Others, of course, were working on building.
There are a lot of one-day build veterans in the bunch. New Life’s building is the ninth Church in a Day project to be built in Indiana; many working Thursday have been part of the other eight or even on builds in other states.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Steve Perkins of Columbus, who was volunteering at his sixth Church in a Day build. “It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. We just built a church.”
The Rev. Terry Long, national leader for Church in a Day, said about 175 skilled laborers and 175-200 unskilled workers brought their efforts to the New Life project. He likes to call it organized chaos, this rapid succession of the various trades at work in close proximity.
But Long, senior pastor of Lawrence Apostolic Church, said the building site is also a place of hooting, laughing, talking — the buzz of deep fellowship.
“It’s just amazing what it does for our local congregation,” Faulk said of their work. “It allows us to dig our roots down deep. We’re hoping to pack the place out.”
approximate number of shrubs to be planted at New Life Church’s new building. They include roses, St. John’s wort and ground covers.
number of churches Church in a Day has built in Indiana, with New Life Church being the ninth. The other eight were built in Delphi, Trafalgar, French Lick, Decatur, Westport, New Whiteland, Cumberland and Oakland City.
how much New Life Church will owe on the building project. Pastor Michael Faulk notes the monthly payment will be less than what he anticipates rent would have been on a larger facility.
square feet in the new building
approximate number of people who attended the 2016 General Conference of the United Pentecostal Church International from Tuesday through Friday in Indianapolis, according to Lawrence pastor Terry Long. Conference-goers received video updates on the build. An offering Thursday had a goal of $1.5 million to in the future fund two one-day U.S. church builds a year, Long said.