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South Carolina mission team assists Kingsport church with home repairs

Holly Viers • Jul 22, 2018 at 8:30 AM

KINGSPORT — First Broad Street United Methodist Church recently welcomed some familiar faces back to the Tri-Cities.

A team of around 35 people from St. John’s Parish Church in Johns Island, South Carolina, made their fifth or sixth trip to Northeast Tennessee last week to assist First Broad Street with its home repair ministry.

Danny Howe, mission director for First Broad Street, said volunteers from both churches worked on four homes, three of which are inside the city limits.

“(It provides) the experience and opportunity for the people that are here from South Carolina to be involved in a mission experience and develop relationships that they wouldn’t have done any other way,” Howe said. “So we’ve put a lot of energy into that part of it.”

A partnership begins

Howe said First Broad Street has been working with St. John’s Parish since the early 1980s, when a high school team from Kingsport began traveling to Johns Island to do mission work.

Since then, the Kingsport team has grown to include more than 100 people. After many years of the Kingsport team’s service in Johns Island, St. John’s Parish decided it was time to return the favor.

“They’ve been coming down to Johns Island, South Carolina, where we’re from, for right at 30 years,” said Rob Schluter, family pastor of St. John’s Parish. “So a few years ago, we decided that maybe we should reciprocate the love and the effort, because we’ve appreciated what they’ve done in our community. So we got in touch with Danny Howe, and we’ve been coming here for several years now.”

How the ministry works

Howe said the home repair ministry is part of the life of First Broad Street’s congregation. The church repairs homes throughout the year using its own funds and grant funds from the city of Kingsport.

“We work with the city and have been for almost 10 years, with that arrangement,” Howe said. “As long as the applicants for home repairs live in the city limits and fulfill the grant requirements, then we can use those dollars, and volunteers and actually do more, because (the city) is not having to pay labor out.”

Home repairs can vary from cosmetic updates to structural repairs, Howe said. Repairs on the four homes completed last week included replacing windows, painting, installing a wheelchair ramp, replacing porches and replacing a bathroom floor that had collapsed.

“With the city grant and with what we have budgeted, they complement each other pretty well,” Howe said, “and we’re able to do a good bit in a year’s time.”

Making an impact

Howe said the homeowners were “tickled to death” to receive the repairs they needed but couldn’t perform themselves.

“They’re very excited about getting the work done and getting things to where the homes are safer, warmer, drier and they’re able to maintain their home in a way which they were not able to prior to becoming involved with (the ministry),” Howe said.

For St. John’s Parish, the home repair ministry is a good opportunity to show love to those in need.

“It’s a good thing,” Schluter said. “We have a lot of fun together, and we enjoy working and meeting people. The people in Kingsport are beautiful, wonderful people that we’ve fallen in love with over the past (several) years of coming here. That’s the type of thing that we look forward to all year long.”

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