‘Heaven sent’ older adult missioners help Lake City church get back on its feet

By Jessica Brodie

LAKE CITY—Armed with hammers, scrapers and a lion’s share of energy, a team of older adults headed to the Pee Dee in April for their annual Older Adult Mission Event.

Every year, a team of largely retirees heads to a different district in the state to do repair work on a United Methodist church. This year, they repaired St. Luke UMC, Lake City, pastored by the Rev. Amiri Hooker.

Before the October floods, the church knew it had some minor repairs, and it was waiting until it could afford them. But with the flood, Hooker said, “The minor became really major.”

Water came into the building, leaving mold and mildew in its aftermath.

“People were literally getting sick,” Hooker said.

The hymnals and Bibles were covered with mold and mildew, they had to stop worshipping for about two weeks during the height of the problem, and the church secretary couldn’t even enter the building because her breathing problems combined with the mold sent her to the health center twice.

But when the older adult missioners decided to come do their part to help, Hooker and his congregation began to hope. They lined up a disaster response team, the Altoona District Disaster Relief and Mission Team from Altoona, Pennsylvania, to come in the week before the older adults. The disaster team did some of the heavier work—removing tiles with mildew and mold from the sanctuary, taking out part of the roof, adding new gutters, replacing Sheetrock, adding paneling and more.

Then, the week of April 18, the older adults came, washing down the woodwork, cleaning up, taking down popcorn, resealing vents and redoing the floor in the Fellowship Hall.

“It was heaven sent,” Hooker said. “I was really feeling kind of at my wit’s end—people were constantly sick, the church finances wouldn’t permit (repair)—and it’s just been really great to have persons come show the spirit of Methodism and help our congregation out.”

For her part, church secretary Jackie Moore (who is also member of the church council, chair of the kitchen committee and a lay servant) said she is thrilled to be able to return to her church home.

“It felt awful,” she said, dabbing away tears. “But now, it’s so heart-touching. It’s so great that we have such good people. They have to be God-sent to want to come and do this. It’s a blessing and a miracle, and I thank God for them.”

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