One Church's Easter Gift to Another

Washington Post

Thursday 27 July 2006, 3:49 pm

(Mark says: I'm still catching up on reading from April thru June.)

Ashburn Worshipers Send Pews to Hurricane-Struck Miss. Congregation

By Arianne Aryanpur, Washington Post Staff Writer; Sunday, April 16, 2006; Page LZ01

In February, the membership of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Ashburn (Virginia) decided that its sanctuary needed an extreme makeover. It would become a more flexible space, allowing the church to use the sanctuary for more purposes than Sunday-morning services. The altar and pulpit would be moved forward and made level with the rest of the room, and the rigid wooden pews would be replaced with padded, stackable chairs

But what was Crossroads to do with those pews? They were barely more than a decade old, too new to chuck into the trash dump.

They heard about a congregation in a Mississippi town, Escatawpa, population 3,566 in 2000, that had been dealt a cruel blow by Hurricane Katrina. The Rev. Willie Hill estimated that 90 percent of his congregation at Summerville United Methodist Church lost homes or businesses because of the hurricane.

In the months afterward, Summerville managed to restore most of what the wind and water had destroyed. But it did not have the $12,000 needed to replace the rotting pews.

Crossroads' unneeded pews, church members quickly decided, should go to Summerville. The plan was to have them installed in time for Easter services. The maroon cushions and wood frames arrived in Escatawpa just as crews finished painting the walls (maroon and white, to match the new cushions) and laying new red carpet.

Crossroads also sent along a surprise: Bibles, hymnals and choir robes to replace those ruined in the storm surge.