Apr 18, 2023 | John W. Coleman

For its third annual Help Build Hope mission project, Bethel Hill United Methodist Church in Lansdale, PA, doubled down on its usual homebuilding efforts by constructing a more ambitious, two-floor duplex for some blessed new homeowners in Berks County.

Help Build Hope is a mission project Bethel Hill UMC has done at home since 2021—during the Covid pandemic—in its own parking lot, where church members, partners and other volunteers work together over a weekend to assemble interior and exterior walls for a new home. This time they did it April 14-16, along with their regular partner, Christ United Methodist Church Lansdale, which contributed leadership, volunteers and funds

“We measure and cut the lumber on Friday; and on Saturday, we assemble the walls in the parking lot,” explained Les Brown, church leader and project manager. On Sunday morning the church dedicates the new house during its worship service.

Each year participants—including adults, youth and children—get to write prayers, scriptures and personal words of blessing on the wooden studs. Then they disassemble the house and load it onto a huge truck to be carried to its final destination and reassembled. But before it departs—this time for Reading—a Bible is added as a gift for the fortunate family—or in this case, families—who will receive the new home.

The experience is uplifting, as God watches over the build

“The experience is uplifting, as God watches over the build,” said Ed Gale, who is the UM Men’s president for both Bethel Hill and the Eastern PA Conference.  “You do not need to have building experience.  If you can swing a hammer, you’re able to help.” 

The church’s Men’s Prayer Group cooked breakfast– pancakes & sausage—on Saturday morning to feed workers before the hardest and busiest, but probably the most enjoyable, workday begins.   

Bethel Hill and Christ UMCs purchased lumber and supplies for the home build, aided by fundraising efforts, donations and a generous discount from Home Depot. Chick-Fil-A in Montgomeryville donated sandwiches for lunch, augmented by Sanctuary UMC’s fresh fruit and cookies, and snacks from Bethel Hill. 

Even the weather helped by contributing sunshine instead of forecasted thunderstorms, with only a few midday raindrops to cool off the laborers. “God surely smiled on all of us this weekend,” said the Rev. Sue Ketterer, Bethel Hill’s pastor. 

“It was a massive undertaking, building the framing walls for a two-story duplex,” she explained. “The Friday night lumber cutting crew was able to get a head start by putting together nine walls. So, the remaining 120 walls were completed on Saturday by about 2:00 p.m. The building we erected was a testament to all the hard work and donations.”

Joe Wilson, a building project coordinator from CrossRoads Ministries, provided encouragement and skilled leadership to keep the nailing teams working, said Ketterer. 

Tim Daley, from Habitat for Humanity of Berks County, visited and was impressed with the operation. When he told us about the two families who would receive the new homes, “we prayed for those families,” said Ketterer. “Tim’s words made an inspirational impression on us.” The leftover lumber was later delivered to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore Shop in Norristown.

Thank you all for being the church!

“Thank you all for being the church!” said the Rev. Andrew L. Foster III, East District Superintendent. who attended the dedication service on Sunday.

“What a great project and witness,” wrote Bishop John Schol, commending the church for its hands-on mission endeavor. “Thank you for the courage to take this project on. My prayers are with you and the people.” 

View a Channel 69 TV news report on the home build project and also Bethel Hill’s video of highlights from its 2022 house build viewed here. Also, view news coverage of the home’s delivery to Habitat for Humanity in Reading: Chan69BerksNewsLearn more about Help Build Hope at https://www.helpbuildhope.com/. 

Contact Ketterer (kettsue@gmail.com) or Les Brown (LTB22ELCOM@aol.com) to learn more about Bethel Hill’s home build projects and how to start one for your church. (Lima UMC also has done several Help Build Hope house builds for families in need, after learning about Bethel Hill’s first project.)