We’re so happy to welcome back St. Paul’s Habitat Build Team to the Telegraph Townhomes this July.
One year ago, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church formed the Habitat Ministry Team (pictured below, back when humans could stand next to each other) and invited members of their church to volunteer with us each month. We welcomed this wonderful group back to the Telegraph Townhomes this July, after COVID put a temporary halt to their build days. We’re incredibly grateful to have them back with us, and just in time to put in some of the last touches on the first 8 units of the Telegraph Townhomes.
Church leadership member, Lindsay Reid, credits the idea of the group to Reverend Johnathan Weldon. “It was Johnathan’s enthusiasm, support and leadership that helped us to get the ball rolling.” she said.
Reverend Weldon, on the other hand, credits Lindsay for the success of the group, and her ability to organize the team towards a common goal. Ever since she was tasked with putting the group together, they have been a tremendous asset to our construction crew, and helped us make significant headway in our project.
“We’ve got a good sized group of ten, that are faithful every month.” Lindsay said, “And for us, it’s not only a way of helping our community and helping Bellingham, and helping people who need housing, it’s that we, too, are enormously blessed as we enjoy being a ministry team and sharing prayer & fellowship each month as we serve others.”
Now that I’m pushing 70, I’ve slowed down a little bit and I pick more carefully what are the things I really want to do. The Habitat Ministry team would be first on the list, I would say, of all the things at St. Paul I enjoy. This group–working with Chris and Hillary and John Moon, on this project–and these fellow parishioners, is one of my favorite ways to “be church,” and gives me the most joy.”
Serving the community is a key element of St. Paul’s theology, in what Father Weldon described as the “Gather, transform, send,” model. “That is one of the key models that we teach. It’s an understanding that the Church isn’t here just to meet people’s individual private needs, It’s here to be transformative. So, the relationship with God is supposed to overflow in blessing to the community.” This belief is so central to St. Paul’s theology, that it is reflected in their mission statement:
“Gathered together by the Holy Spirit we worship God, and transformed by Christ’s love, we go forth into the world to love and serve with joy.”
“The vestry looked earlier this year from the passage from the book of the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 58.” Reverend Weldon continued, “the prophet talks about the work of doing justice as of being repairers of breaches, being restorers of streets to live in. It’s a picture of communal life being healthy, because the call of God is to make it so. If you’re in a community, and it isn’t made better by your presence, then what are you here for?”
For Reverend Weldon, teaming up with Habitat to build homes checked out a lot of boxes. “For our people, it’s just such a practical way to be of service, bang for the buck,” he said, “You know how it is with Habitat work crews: you build community, you have fun, you get something done and you have a sense of accomplishment.”
Along with being heroes at our construction site, this year St. Paul’s Easter collection raised $3,000 for Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County.
Since 2008, when the idea for the major offerings were first proposed, members of St. Paul’s have been raising more and more money each Christmas and Easter, and donating it to causes that are crucial to the health of our community.
“It just captured people’s imagination.” Weldon said, “People want to do good. It also said something: on this Sunday, where you have all these people and you could use this as an opportunity to help your bottom line, why not give it away as a statement of trust, and an act of generosity? So that’s just been a feature of St. Paul’s life for the past 12 years.”
Father Weldon will be retiring this year after 31 years of service to the church–twelve of which have been as the Rector at St. Paul’s. He is looking forward to some time to rest, reflect, and spend some time with his family and newborn grandson.
We wish him the best, and whatever he decides to do next, we know he will continue to make our community a better place.