Maranatha Volunteers International recently broke ground on a new building for the Ooltewah Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tennessee, United States. The congregation was formed in 2009 and became an official church in 2019.
Without a permanent place to worship, the group turned to Maranatha Volunteers International, a supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They asked Maranatha to provide volunteer labor and the ministry’s standard North America Church design, which provides substantial savings on architect fees.
In the first phase of construction, 57 volunteers worked to erect the frame and run the electrical installation. The weather proved challenging at times — heavy rain created ankle-deep mud. A forklift became stuck, and strong winds delayed work on the gables. But the determined group overcame these challenges and completed their portion of the project. In late 2020 and early 2021, more volunteers will assist with activities including drywall installation, painting, hanging doors, and doing base work.
In response to requests for new-church construction assistance in North America, Maranatha created a blueprint for a simple and cost-effective church building for smaller congregations. The standard plan includes a sanctuary that can accommodate approximately 120 people, a fellowship hall, Sabbath School classrooms, bathrooms, an audio-visual room, and a pastor’s office.
Although most of Maranatha’s mission trips take place outside of North America, the organization also has a long history of Maranatha projects within the United States and Canada. Each year, Maranatha assists with at least a dozen projects in North America by mobilizing volunteers, and they range from renovations of existing buildings to new construction.
Maranatha does not do fundraising for projects in North America, and groups requesting assistance must have the majority of funding for the project in place prior to Maranatha’s commitment. The benefit of working with Maranatha is the cost savings of volunteer labor.
Besides having the funds in place to cover materials, organizations requesting Maranatha’s assistance must have all permits and paperwork ready before the ministry begins recruiting volunteers. In some cases, Maranatha volunteer leaders are willing to assist with the overall process.
For the Tennessee project, long-time Maranatha volunteer and board member Roger Hatch served as the construction superintendent and has committed to helping the congregation through the entire process.
“[Church members] are extremely grateful for what we are doing,” Hatch said. “They were surprised how fast the volunteers worked and how quickly it went up. They can’t wait until they have a place to worship in — currently, 65 to more than 100 people attend each week, and they’re doing that in a tent. I think this church will be a real shining light in this community.”