At the end of a week filled with news of tragedy from Boston, Mass., to West, Texas, a group of dedicated Christians in Justin demonstrated the power of people coming together for a single purpose.
At 6 a.m. last Friday, a signal was given and hundreds of volunteers helped raise the framework of walls onto a concrete slab. By the end of the day, a completed church occupied the same space.
It’s called the “Church in a Day” program, a ministry of North American Missions through the United Pentecostal Church International. Last weekend’s project provided a permanent home for The Rock Church in Justin.
Previously, the church had met in different locations around town, most recently at Lucas Funeral Home. E.W. Whitmire, the North American Missions Director for Texas, couldn’t help but point out the symbolism at work.
“When Jesus came out of the tomb, he rocked the world. When The Rock Church comes out of the funeral home, it’s going to rock Justin for sure,” he said.
Like the project’s name points out, the church is literally built in a 24-hour period. All of the labor is performed by volunteers who work in shifts to make sure the work never stops. Everything is planned down to the minute. While about half the nearly 500 volunteers are from the Justin area, others came from as far away as Wichita Falls, south of Austin and the Texas Gulf coast area. The Truth Church in Denison cooked meals on site for all the volunteers.
Several local businesses donated material and labor for the project. The Rock Church Pastor Shane LeJeune said he was appreciative of all who donated, particularly Cleburne Sheet Metal for donating all of the roof panels as well as the installation and equipment. Lowe’s in Decatur also donated bushes and grass for landscaping.
As he stood Friday afternoon watching the beehive of activity as the church rose from the ground up, LeJeune said it reminded him of another American tradition.
“It’s like the old barn raising, when people would come together and raise a barn. The barn was the lifeline for those families, and when you talk about building a church, everyone comes out.
“Everybody talks about what’s wrong with America. This is a chance to be involved in something that is still right about America,” he said.
By the time the sun came up on Saturday morning, a 4,100-square foot building stood as a testament to the hard work and months of planning that led up to the church’s new home.
“It’s overwhelming,” LeJeune said.
On Sunday, church members gathered to worship in their new home for the first time.
The building’s footprint will allow for expansion to 5,100 square feet in about six months to a year’s time. There are also plans for the land around the church, including the possibility of an amphitheater to host an annual musical festival.
And there’s room for another building – whenever folks get a free day.