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New Roof for Historic Church
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A project fund forUnion Baptist Church

$210 given of $8,500 goal

New Roof for Historic Church

Started by: Bryce Thompson

13 shares

  • Website
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When she stepped through the doors of historic Union Baptist Church on October 19, 1997, Reverend Colleen Pearl knew this was going to be “home.” The cold autumn air breezed through fifty-two broken panes within the windows that lined the sanctuary. Dust and mold from the old horsehair-filled pews circulated around the damp room. The building had not had heat or running water in a decade. Part of the sanctuary floor was sagging and the whole structure seemed to bounce as she walked. Cracks and fractures were visible on the walls and ceiling.

Colleen’s husband, Reverend William Pearl, sniffled and sneezed as he tried to focus on his sermon notes. He’d been invited to preach by a loyal remnant of the congregation. She took her seat by the podium and watched as he struggled to deliver the Sunday message through his fogged-up glasses and runny eyes. He was polite at the end of the service, despite a feeling of unease. They rode home in silence.

That evening, Pastor Bill slept fitfully, finally awakened by a vivid dream. He was walking with God in a snow covered field. A solitary rose poked through the glistening surface and began to blossom. Its flowers then spread over the entire field, radiating with beauty. Bill awakened his wife. “I think God wants us to be part of a miracle in East Killingly,” he relayed to her. “I wondered how long it would take you to come to that,” she replied.

Pastors Colleen and Bill began cleaning the building right away, with the help of friends. They received an engineer’s report that gave instructions for repairs and initiated a major overhaul. On Christmas Eve, 1997, the church bell rang out for the first time in twenty years. It was a herald for miracles to come. Since that time, scores of volunteers filled numerous needs, from mowing the lawn, to building a playground, to completing renovations.

The church served as a distribution hub for Angel Food Ministries until 2009. It operated a summer youth program, Camp Opportunity, until 2013. In 2007, New Hope Academy received accreditation by the National Association of Private Schools. Approximately 130 students (grades K - 12) from the area strolled through those doors with the promise of discovering their innate gifts and abilities. Pastor Colleen’s sole mission was to draw out from each individual, their highest potential. Despite meager operating budgets, intermittent community resistance, and diminishing health, she dedicated every moment to that mission. NHA remained open until 2019, when Colleen’s illness prevented her from being able to conduct teaching duties. Sadly, she passed away just this summer.

Pastor Bill continues to preach every Sunday, while maintaining his pledge to serve the local community. His passion for people and his dedication to serving the Lord radiate with his presence. While Union Baptist Church has been “home” for the Pearls’ ministry, their legacy extends far beyond its hallowed walls. It has stood as a beacon for this small community since its inception in 1776.

____________________________________________________________

In 2011, two intrepid parents of NHA students volunteered to repair the historic bell tower. A local contractor donated a lift from which they could work. Their efforts extended the life of the bell tower for eight years. Now, however, the weight of the tower has fractured the support beams in place since its construction in 1863.

It’s become clear that the structure should be removed for safety, as well as to keep water from running into the building. In addition, the roof of the church is in extremely poor condition and must be replaced. The cost is estimated to be around $17,500. Through donations of current attendees and a few other generous folks, we’ve now raised half this amount!

Would you prayerfully consider helping out by donating even a few dollars, or passing this along to others? Thank you for taking the time to read about the little church on the hill- a church full of history, of serving the Lord, and of radiating His love for this community. As Pastor Bill would say, “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered.” Thank you and God bless you.

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3 Supporters

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  • Wendy J Fusco7 weeks ago Best wishes. Bill, you and Colleen have given so very much love to this community in so many ways. Bryce, you did a great job writing about this issue. Blessings to the both of you and to the others giving support to this endeavor. Wendy and Hank Fusco
  • Shannon D Grinde13 weeks ago Good luck!
  • Ruth Bourassa13 weeks ago UBC