South Congaree, SC (Paul Kirby) – A few years ago, the staff of Ebenezer Church’s Food Pantry realized that their community’s need for help had outgrown the capacity of their little food pantry. Each week more and more people came in need, and the shelves of the pantry seemed to get smaller and smaller. Food was stacked anywhere the volunteer ladies who ran the pantry could find a place to put it. It just got where they turned the food around so fast, there wasn’t enough room to store any extra. It seemed as if they spent as much time stocking food as they did providing services to those in need. The bottom line, they had outgrown the little 15’ x 30’ building they were using, and no extra space was available on the church’s campus. With all the programs Ebenezer was involved in, there was no spot already prepared that could serve those hungry for God’s work. Something needed to be done.
That year, the ladies at the pantry were serving close to 10,000 people. The numbers have only increased since then. The men in the church’s congregation, as well as their leaders, recognized that these hardworking volunteers needed some relief and especially some space. Together, they sat down to formulate a plan. In the end, it was decided that the only reasonable option was to build a totally new building for their pantry.
For the men of the church, this was their specialty. Ebenezer is blessed with tradesmen of almost every skill, experts in construction and men with the ability to resource materials on the cheap; people who had the right friends that would help if they were just asked. If the ladies could run it, the men certainly could build it.
When one says Ebenezer is blessed by men who are true craftsman, it’s almost an understatement. These men are experts at designing and building strong, stout buildings; structures of beauty built for longevity. If the men would volunteer the labor, and much of the materials was donated, the church could keep the cost low and the quality high.
Led by Mayor Danny Jones of South Congaree, a member of the church’s leadership, a group of men from the church got ahold of some plans. Everything was approved and permits were obtained. Now, they began to build a food pantry unlike any other in the area.
Jones, like Joseph, Jesus’ father, is a skilled carpenter. He's enamored with the older style post and frame construction. Much of what he builds, although new, has an older feel and look to it. It’s like construction from another time. He uses stout timbers and builds in a fashion one would have to see to believe and understand.
Jones also owns a sawmill and loves the look and feel of rough-cut timber. He and a group of volunteers came together and cut all the lumber they’d use. The men used the large posts for strength, but also for aesthetics. Other men put their skills to work in other ways. There was steel to hang, concrete to pour, and even doors and fixtures to build. Yes, these men made most of the doors and the hardware for them, like the hinges and latches so they would fit with the look of the structure. These will also last for years!
Almost every Saturday for 20 months, the men gathered and worked on that building. It became a time of fellowship, men working alongside men talking, relating, and getting to know one another better. It didn’t matter your skill level, there was always something you could do! When it was completed, the new Ebenezer Food Pantry was beautiful!
With a mixture of stone, heavy timber, and the old-style hardware, the pantry now looks more like a mountain lodge or a high-end stable than any food pantry. There’s plenty of storage space, a service door for trucks to unload, restrooms, something the old pantry just didn’t have, and even a place where meetings can be held if necessary. In fact, the church’s Royal Rangers, a group much like the Boy Scouts but with different moral values, plans to use it at times as well. It sits near Colonial Drive and Church Street between the church’s office and its youth center. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should, it’s gorgeous!
Mayor Danny Jones, the man who owned much of the equipment needed and spearheaded a great deal of the project said, “I’ve never seen men driven like those that worked on this project. It was clear that God’s hands were guiding theirs. Some missed a few Saturdays but that core group, they continued working on that building and fellowshipping. It became a time that many looked forward to. Even when we needed to hire tradesman for jobs we simply couldn’t do, men like electricians, they were willing do the work at a reduced cost to save us money. In the end, we finished with a beautiful building at a greatly reduced price. It had to be God’s will that this was done.”
Pastor Gene Henderson of Ebenezer said after the building was almost complete, “This pantry has been under construction for 20 months and has mostly been completed at the hands of the many volunteers from our church and this community. This pantry belongs to the "least of these" in our community and will be given to God to be used for His Glory.”
On Sunday March 8th, following the church’s morning service, they are having the ribbon cutting and dedication of the new food pantry. The church would like to invite the entire community to the dedication that will begin at 11:30 a.m.