15 April 2007


Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were remarkable days for Waterford Community Church. Let me share at least a few of the cool things that happened.

On Friday, Montgomery & Sons Restoration Company went to town on this place with 30 very professional and friendly people doing amazing work. By the end of the day, most of the replacement glass had already been installed--amazing! Meanwhile, we fielded tons of phone calls expressing concern, offering help from individuals, businesses, and churches, as well as making calls ourselves to coordinate restoration efforts. The news reporters and camera crews really kept us hopping. We appreciated their coverage. Once that hit the airwaves (noon, evening, and night news) the website (
www.waterfordwired.org) was also innundated with 400 hits. This blog got about 300.Also on Friday, I got a call from an extended family member of one of the guys who did this. They had been under arrest since the day before when crime scene fingerprints were matched in the computer system. Both had confessed and given us the location of stolen property hidden in garbage bags outside in the woods by the train tracks which we were able to recover. They were arraigned on Friday. Each was charged with three felony counts of breaking and entering, malicious destruction of property, and (I think) intent to commit a felony. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. This family member tearfully told me that the entire family was very sorry. They explained that this was completely random--neither guy had had any prior interaction with our church that we know of. Both were crystal-meth addicts who had also gotten drunk that night. They were high, hungry, and bored. In talking, this church-going relative also gave some backround on one of the boys that helped me understand that long before he ever became a victimizer, he'd been a victim. Though we recognize that there are appropriate consequences for their actions, we forgive both of them, holding no ill-will and hoping that this will be the wake-up call that they need.
Saturday morning, the restoration people were back in full-force. Joining them were approximately 130 volunters from our church, other area churches (special thanks goes to the men's group from Clarkston Community Church and their Pastor Dan Whiting, as well as the Brethren Church here in Waterford), the neighborhood, and friends (Mark Ballard and Shawn (Shellnut) Spry were alums from Southfield Christian that showed-up--THANK YOU!). We dispatched teams to rooms hoping to cover 10 key areas that would make the facility functional enough for Sunday. We had so many hard-working people that we were able to wipe-down virtually the whole building.

The work really was meticulous. I watched the restoration people wipe down each individual CD in our Creative Arts Director's heavily fire extinguisher-sprayed office. In children's rooms, plastic toys were run through the big kitchen's industrial dishwasher. Carpet was stripped in rooms used by small children were there was heavy glass breakage. The techie guys went through all of the damaged electronic components establishing their condition, salvaging key components like hard drives, and disposing of broken stuff. In the midst of all this, one family from church donated 30 pizzas to feed people. Another family donated beverages for the day. A donated dumpster sat outside in the back from a business in the community. And, throughout the day, people stopped-by to make donations ranging in size from $100 from an elderly lady in a rusted-out car to $500 from a family here at church, to $700 the Restoration Church (?) in Pontiac. People brought cleaning supplies from home. One family got our tax-exempt ID certificates and went to local stores to see if they'd be willing to donate toys to our nurseries. A group of Middle School kids got the idea to write thank-you notes for everyone who came to help work. They sat there and industriously wrote all of them!

We started at 8:30 am. At 10, I raced over to Community Prebyterian Church to conduct a funeral for Sherrie Lee Carlton--a 25 year attender at WCC who has been homebound and suffering with COPD/severe emphysema for years. She was a beautiful loving woman who left her own words for me to share--a true privilege. Her husband Fred is a prince of a guy--nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. Our prayers go out to them, and the rest of their family throughout these coming weeks. Not only was the church nice enough to let us use their santuary for the service, but they let our team use their kitchen for the meal afterwards too. They had five or six of their members there to help cook and serve! After a graveside interment at White Chapel Cemetary, I headed back to the clean-up effort winding down. The place looked and smelled great! Only two rooms were out of commission--rooms we could work around.

Throughout the end of the week, I kept thinking how awesome it would be if we could have this kind of connectedness as believers, this kind of coordination working together for a common purpose, this kind of freely expressed care and concern for others in our communities on the normal days where there is no crisis to galvanize us to action. I'm still thinking about that. It felt like the kingdom of God kept making itself known in powerful and creative ways. I'd love to have that sense more often!

On Sunday, 387 of us gathered--many in the building for the first time since all of this happened. We studied Luke 9:18-50 as had been planned, as the passage speaks about what the core identity and destiny of a disciple of Jesus is: to follow, to take up your cross daily, and to deny yourself. It seemed appropriate. Then, we spent some time talking about what had happened--the bad, and the even greater good--while we showed before and after photos. You can listen-in if you like at this link that takes you to the church website (link will be active once message is posted). We're compiling a photo album that I'll post a link for when it's completed.
While work will go on this week, and the focus will shift to working with our insurance company on ruined or damaged contents, our church wasn't hurt this week, only a building was. If anything, our church was strengthened and improved--"an Extreme Church Makeover" as Kellie Rittenhouse termed it-- as we came together in unity, had our faith deepened out of necessity and our character made more Christlike in the process. Through all of this, we are grateful to our God who didn't let it be any worse, and who led us through the worst. Thank you so very much to all of you who were a part of helping Him do just that. May He get all the credit, even as we give you our thanks.


Organized Chaos said...

It's awesome to hear how God has used this sensless act to bring your church and community together!

Hope it does something just as significant in the lives of the guys responsible for the damage.

Jesus Girl said...

Well, I was going to comment but the organized chaos that commented before me really said it all. I was just wondering what had happened.

I will be praying for the individuals who did this. Meth is a hard drug to kick with an 80 percent return. But with God's grace, saving faith, and forgiveness that only comes from God that motivates one to a life of obedience...well, I know firsthand that it's possible. I'm hitting my 3yr clean and sober mark this year.

Sounds like God used this to bring His church together under crisis and bring glory to Himself.


Spreading the love of Jesus Christ one opportunity at a time.