Evangel Church demonstrated on Sunday, October 13 that worship need not occur only in their Scotch Plains sanctuary. Hammering nails to construct homes with the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plainfield & Middlesex County was an act of worship for this local church for a day called “Service for Service.” Church members forsook their weekly Sunday morning worship service and performed service projects in the local community.
“It's about being the church, rather than going to church,” commented the church’s organizer, Maria Cortes. “We wanted to trade a church service to go out and do service.”
When Habitat of Plainfield/Middlesex was originally contacted to schedule a service project on a Sunday, Rev. Jeremy Montgomery the Executive Director thought that it was a mistake.
“Volunteer groups are drawn to the 'Habitat Experience' not only because of the urgent need for affordable housing in our community, but also for the extraordinary hands-on opportunity that it provides.” Rev. Montgomery said. “Sundays are just not typically a day on which we build our homes because of religious observances.”
30 volunteers came out to swing hammers and install sheathing on two Habitat homes in Plainfield. Building new homes in partnership with working families in need of decent housing is Habitat’s mission. Because of valuable volunteer manpower, Habitat then is able to give a no-profit/no-interest loan to the family partners. Because Habitat's loans are inexpensive and no-profit, the new homes are affordable for low-income families.
However, financial contributions are highly important to Habitat’s work in addition to volunteer labor. Each volunteer group looks to Habitat to provide these three essential things: supplies, supervision, and safety. Yet, these components come with a high cost to Habitat. Groups are encouraged to provide donations to help defray the rising costs of construction, to ensure proper materials are onsite, and to provide necessary supervision for the safety of the group.
When the Senior Pastor of Evangel Church, Rev. Chris Morante, learned of this financial need, a check in the amount of $3,000 was immediately delivered to Habitat of Plainfield/Middlesex’s office.
“We just want to be a blessing to our community,” Rev. Morante stated. “We’re excited that over 1,000 people signed up to serve on this day, and we are helping 70 different households and an additional 18 separate service projects like Habitat.”
Many people appreciate the opportunity to 'give back', and view volunteering with Habitat as a rewarding experience. Today was unique because these volunteers worked as an expression of their Christian worship.
“I learned that by the end of a day, an entire house is in fact going to be constructed by people, some of whom have never even swung a hammer,” proudly commented Jamie Quiros of Highland Park. She as an owner of a children’s consignment shop in Edison is not a stranger to hard work. However, her husband Mainor is the handyman in the family, skilled to do house construction.
“From my participation with Habitat today, I have experienced the impact of a person serving and being a part of something larger than myself.”
“To God be the glory,” proclaimed John DeSantos of Linden, volunteering with his son Josiah. “I enjoyed serving alongside of my son, and I hope that God gets all the Glory for the work performed today.”