Nonprofit renovating former church to expand services
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Oct 15, 2013 | 2818 views |  0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Carpenter United Methodist Church disbanded and deeded the property over to Community Enabler. Construction continues at the site. Lester Quilliams does construction at the site. Photo by Bill Wilson.
The Carpenter United Methodist Church disbanded and deeded the property over to Community Enabler. Construction continues at the site. Lester Quilliams does construction at the site. Photo by Bill Wilson.
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There remains much work to turn Bill Bunn’s former church into a new home for Community Enabler Developer, a nonprofit that provides food, clothing and utility assistance to those in need.

Bunn, a Community Enabler board member, said money is running out as his team of volunteers and paid carpenters continue to transform Carpenter United Methodist Church into usable space for the nonprofit.

Maudine Holloway, director of Community Enabler, said renovations had been estimated at $25,000 but will likely cost as much as $40,000. Bunn said termite damage and dry rot in the 86-year-old building are driving up costs.

Holloway said the nonprofit has received about $5,000 in donations for the project, and borrowed another $5,000. The Calhoun County Commission agreed this month to pay $5,000 toward the work, Holloway said, but it will take about $25,000 more to finish the work.

Once completed, the new building at the corner of Wilmer Avenue and F Street in Anniston will replace the nonprofit’s cramped offices at 1411 Gurnee Ave., Bunn said.

Last year, the nonprofit provided food for about 5,000 low-income residents. With two months to go, the organization has already exceeded that number, she said.

Church leaders deeded the property to the organization in July because the congregation had declined to about 20 active members. The last service at the church, established 122 years ago, was held in May.

Workers carried lumber and manned nail guns inside the building Tuesday, turning Sunday school classrooms into a food distribution area and meeting rooms into extra storage for clothes. Another room will be used for a sewing class, something the nonprofit has no room for in its current location, Holloway said.

There remains a sanctuary with stained-glass windows at the building, but it’s been halved. One side will hold clothing racks and shelving. The other side of the sanctuary will be open, free of charge, to those who cannot afford to pay for funerals, Holloway said.

Volunteers from Saks First United Methodist, Anniston First United Methodist, Jacksonville First United Methodist, St. Mark United Methodist and Rising Star United Methodist churches have all spent time helping with the work, Bunn said.

Holloway started the nonprofit 42 years ago inside one room in the Haven Methodist Church in Anniston. Now, the organization has a whole church, she said.

“God is great,” she said. “This has been a long walk, hasn’t it?”

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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