Presbyterians Today

SEP-OCT 2016

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COURTESY OF NICKI HARLE 12 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay VISIONARIES Without a blueprint or a budget, church members began thinking and acting creatively. First, they secured a $5,834 grant from the West Texas Council of Governments to cover an environmental assessment. (Baird is a member of the council and was eligible to receive the funding.) Then they received a $23,000 grant from Palo Duro Presbytery to pay for demolition and found a demolition contractor, a colleague of a longtime church member, who was happy to cut them a deal. "He almost made no money on it because of what we were doing; he gave us a wonderful bid," says Parker. "He just said it was some- thing he needed to do." From there, members began raising money for the design and construction of what would be a 42-foot-square pavilion. They dipped into their own pockets and cashed out a couple of the church's CDs, F or more than a century, the manse next to First Presbyterian Church in tiny Baird, Texas (population 1,600), served many functions: as the church's first sanctuary, as a home for a string of pastors, and as space for vacation Bible school and adult Sunday school classes. In recent years, however, it had become an albatross, a dilapidated structure that was too expensive to repair and too expensive to demolish. "We talked as a church family about needing to do something, but everybody was concerned about demolition because of the asbestos," says Nicki Harle, church treasurer. And, of course, members worried about letting go of their church's history. "It was a very emotional thing because it had been the first church, but it was in terrible disarray," says Pat Parker, clerk of the session. Then the 40-member congrega- tion—which hasn't had a full-time pastor since 2013—began dreaming big, imagining what might happen if it were to replace the aging manse with an open-air pavilion that would serve church and community alike. "Our church is located right downtown—right next to the courthouse, near the main street of town," Harle says. "Anything we could do to improve that lot and the usability of it was not just beneficial to the church but beneficial to the community." And the walls came tumbling down A small congregation replaces its manse with a mission BY MARK RAY T HOUSANDS of Churches and Youth Groups fund raise with Rada Cutlery each year! Your FUNDRAISER will sell: • Kitchen Knives, Utensils and Gift Sets • Cookbooks, Stoneware and Quick Mixes Request your FREE catalog and information packet: 1-800-311-9691 or NOTE: Dept A16PRS Fund Raising 1. 40% PROFIT 2. USA KITCHEN ITEMS 3. EASY SYSTEM First Presbyterian Church in Baird, Texas, replaced a dilapated manse with a new open-air pavilion that serves both the church and the community.

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