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Carpenters for Christ crew contributes faith, manpower, laughter to Candler church

Over the next month, the group Carpenters for Christ is sending hundreds of volunteers from a dozen states to help Maple Ridge Baptist at what will be its new location off Medford Branch Road. (Photo credit)

Our Persons of the Week are having way too much fun doing something they believe in.

"This is a total relocation for Maple Ridge Baptist Church," said Dave Tidwell, project chairman for the group Carpenters for Christ.

Over the next month, they're sending hundreds of volunteers from a dozen states to help Maple Ridge Baptist at what will eventually be its new location off Medford Branch Road. That's a serious job with its share of funny business.

"That's his nickname, that's Papa Smurf right there. Don't he look like Papa Smurf?" Robert Taylor asked, pointing to a fellow volunteer with a Smurfy beard.

Taylor's the kind of guy who always breaks up the monotony.

"Does that make you Smurfette?" I asked.

"Whatever you want it to be, it can be," Taylor laughed.

All joking aside, the volunteers are motivated by something bigger than themselves.

"Working on building some headers for the doors and windows," Taylor said. "Helping people build churches where they can go to worship."

The labor of love gives the church a prayer at getting the job done.

"Without the volunteers, it would have been impossible," said Larry Riddle, a deacon at Maple Ridge. "We've had the property 10 years, and God put the mission groups in our path and made it possible."

Local churches are also stepping up by providing housing and meals for volunteers. Pole Creek, Bethesda, Hominy Valley and Lake Hills churches have been a huge help.

"It's important to the communities to see what folks can do when they come together with one mindset," Tidwell said. "We are preparing the frame, the rest of the building other than the fellowship hall that's already standing."

Faith is the group's foundation for fellowship. When this crew gets together, it doesn't take work to have a good time.

Laughter is important whether you're from Western North Carolina or Sulligent, Alabama.

"You know exactly where it's at?" Taylor asked with an unmistakable laugh.

Beyond the punchlines, they don't lose track of the task at hand. Their work is reminiscent of an old fashioned barn raising.

"That's exactly what it feels like," Riddle said. "A community coming together to help one another. It's a blessing."

"It's humbling to know that people still care all over the country and want to unite with other Christians to help them build," he added.

At the end of the day, strangers found a new circle of friends, not to mention a circle of prayer.

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