Hoosiers to build center in D'Iberville


By Daniel R. Gangler

Special to the Advocate

INDIANAPOLIS – Bishop Michael J. Coyner and the North and South Indiana Conferences of The United Methodist Church announce a volunteer-in-mission project to build a volunteer center in D’Iberville, Miss.

The project is being organized with both Indiana conferences, the Seashore District of the Mississippi Conference and coordinated by the Volunteer-in-Mission teams of Saint Luke’s United Methodist Church and Acton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.

Volunteers working in the Biloxi area have noted that due to the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, there are no motels for volunteers to stay within an hour’s drive of Biloxi. Many United Methodist volunteers going to the Biloxi area to assist in recovery efforts are sleeping on the pews and floor of the Heritage UMC in D’Iberville.

“The devastation in southern Mississippi is widespread and beyond any we have ever experienced,” said Kay Walla, world missions chair at Saint Luke’s. “Insurance and FEMA will help, but many people need help in stretching what limited money is available. Many churches and parsonages will get little monetary help and their congregations are already stretched thin.”

Staff members of both conferences and the bishop’s office met Jan. 9 to review plans for this joint volunteer-in-mission venture with members of Saint Luke’s and Acton churches. The South Indiana Conference Council on Finance and Administration approved the project unanimously during a regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 10. North Indiana Conference Council of Finance and Administration Chair Paul Arnold views the project as a continuation of the larger Katrina Church Recovery Appeal approved by the United Methodist Council of Bishops.

Partnering with Seashore District

Hoosier United Methodists are partnering with the United Methodist Seashore District of the Mississippi Area and Heritage UMC to build a facility on the property of Heritage to house 40 volunteers. The facility will include six bunk rooms, rest rooms with showers, a kitchen, manager’s quarters and a gathering room. The 50-by-75 foot steel structure will match Heritage’s current building. The Indiana Area has agreed to raise $200,000 needed in addition to the $50,000 already contributed by Saint Luke’s UMC. By building the facility with volunteer labor, 50 percent of the cost of having a facility like this built will be saved.

Organizers plan that after five years of use as a volunteer center, the building will become part of Heritage UMC.

Once completed, the Seashore District Volunteer Center will cut considerably the cost of VIM teams’ room and board and end the disruption of church programs that are now adjusted due to volunteers living weeklong at Heritage UMC.

“The pastor and charge conference of Heritage United Methodist Church in D’Iberville are eager to partner with your volunteers in the building of a facility for the housing of volunteers,” Mississippi Bishop Hope Morgan Ward wrote to Coyner. “The design that has emerged holds great possibility through the recovery effort and beyond. We are grateful for the leadership of Al Dalton and others in this emerging vision.”

Coordinating this building project are volunteers Dalton, Ken Hollis and John Street, contractors and members of Saint Luke’s. Beginning March 6 and continuing eight weeks through April 28, they will need 30 volunteers per week to construct the volunteer center. Each volunteer workweek will begin Sunday evening with orientation and worship, and will end on Friday afternoon. Limited RV parking will be available by arrangement.

Project organizers estimate that the facility will be used to capacity during the next five years as the Biloxi area recovers from the devastating affects of the 2005 hurricanes.

Those interested, in volunteering for construction work or meal preparation, need to complete a registration form available online at www.inareaumc.org or faxed by calling 317-924-1321.

Churches and individuals wishing to contribute to this Indiana Area project may make checks payable to the Indiana Area United Methodist Foundation and send them to Seashore District Volunteer Center, Indiana Area United Methodist Church, 1100 West 42nd St., Suite 210, Indianapolis, IN 46208. Note on the check Seashore District Volunteer Center. One-hundred percent of all proceeds will go to this project. All gifts are tax deductible.