Apr 09, 2024 | John W. Coleman

Bethel Hill United Methodist Church in Lansdale and its generous partners are proving that Hope can be chronic and infectious—not as a disease but as a cure. Together, they “helped build hope” by erecting a fourth house—their second duplex—April 5-7, to become a new home for neighbors in need in Reading, PA. And their annual “mission trip” travels only as far as the church parking lot.

Bethel Hill’s fourth, weekend homebuilding project, aided by the Help Build Hope mission agency, once again gathered over a hundred busy, dedicated, well-organized volunteers of all ages and experience levels. They labored with love to build exterior and interior walls of a new home, and then disassembled and shipped those walls 50 miles away to be reassembled, completed and donated by the Berks County Habitat organization to a low-income family next year.

Moreover, the list of helpful partners keeps expanding, since Christ United Methodist Church Lansdale first joined in this annual local mission effort with both dollars and doers in 2021. That’s when the Covid pandemic prevented travel for mission groups but prompted the church to try building a home for needy neighbors in its own parking lot instead. Now it’s a fairly routine operation.

After Friday night preparations—including initial woodcutting—the full legion of laborers arrived early on a chilly, windy but sunny Saturday. Bethel Hill’s Saturday Men’s Group prepared and served breakfast, and a team from Sanctuary United Methodist Church provided lunch. 

Hammers hitting nails makes a joyful noise

“The ringing of hammers hitting nails was a joyful sound!” said the Rev. Sue Ketterer, Bethel Hill’s pastor. She reports volunteers from Christ UMC and other Southern Montgomery County Mission Link churches, plus youth with their adult leaders from Mount Hope United Methodist Church in Aston, other churches of other denominations and a team from the nearby Worcester Fire Department.

“There was much laughter and a lot of cooperation as the work was being done,” said Ketterer, who looks forward to this heartwarming enterprise each year. 

“The process is as fulfilling as the outcome,” said Ed Gale, president of United Methodist Men of Bethel Hill and Eastern PA. “On Friday, we meticulously measure and cut lumber, setting the stage for a weekend of purpose-driven teamwork. Saturday sees the assembly of walls amidst a backdrop of camaraderie and shared purpose. Finally, on Sunday morning, amidst the warmth of our worship service, we proudly dedicate the new home, a testament to our collective spirit of compassion and unity.”

After the usual Sunday dedication service, members and guests wrote scriptures and words of blessing on the walls to greet the future occupants before disassembling and sending them onward to be delivered on Monday.  Tim Daley, head of Berks County Habitat, came for breakfast on Saturday and returned to offer words of appreciation on Sunday.

“God blessed us for this event with great leadership and camaraderie,” said Ketterer. She and members may attend Habitat’s dedication of the duplex home they built in 2023, which is scheduled for April 10 in Reading.

View photos and video of the 2024 project on Bethel Hill’s Facebook page. To see the future highlight video being produced and to learn more about this ministry—which other churches have emulated—contact Pastor Ketterer at Bethel Hill UMC, 610-584-5936 or bethelhill@verizon.net.  Or contact Les Brown, project coordinator at LTB22ELCOM@aol.com