Forestburg UMC parsonage project shows intent to grow
Rev. "Sam" Campbell leads Sunday worship.
Forestburg members gather near the stand of trees where a new parsonage will soon be built .
BY DR. JOAN LABARR
Anyone looking for a forest in Forestburg, is more likely to find the beautiful, gently rolling terrain, but should they be looking for a vibrant, vital small United Methodist congregation, they would be in the right place.
Forestburg UMC, located in Montague County on Farm-to-Market Road (FM) 455, reflects the "can-do" spirit of a community that rallied to rebuild its school in one year after a disastrous fire in 1996. The church has experienced its ups and downs in its over 107-year history, and in 2007 the congregation made the decision to grow in its commitment to become a full-time pastoral appointment in the North Texas Conference.
Rev. Elwin (Sam) Campbell, who had served the church as part of a two-church charge, was appointed as pastor for the 2007-08 conference year, Rev. "Sam" Campbell leads Sunday worship with the assurance that the church would build a parsonage according to conference guidelines. In the meantime, he and his wife, Debbie, moved into an aging mobile home on the church property.
True to its word, the church elected a building committee, launched a capital campaign, and began developing plans for the new parsonage. Longtime members Carroll (Jack) and Jewell Dill donated approximately one acre of land on FM 677 north of Forestburg.
As details like the required land survey are progressing, the present vision is to build the new parsonage near a picturesque stand of trees. Existing trees and landscape will be retained and improved to enhance the beauty of the property and make it more inviting to visitors.
The proposed structure will be a 2,450 sq. ft., three or four bedroom home, with the fourth bedroom available to be used as a pastor's office, if desired.The garage will add 528 additional sq. ft., and a covered porch 540 sq. ft.
The garage will be separate from the main house, and could be added later to help make the project more economically feasible. Rev. Campbell says that having a detached garage will also enhance fire safety.
Plans have been submitted to the Wichita Falls District Committee on Church Location and Building, and once they are approved, a ground breaking service will be scheduled.
The proposed project budget is $150,000, of which $50,000 is pledged to date. The expectation is that the church will borrow between $80,000 to $100,000, but the total financed could be less depending on future pledges. One possibility being considered to make the dream come true is the use of skilled volunteer labor on parts of the project.
Mrs. Dill, who remembers when the district superintendent came to visit her father about a long-ago building project that involved using timber from a nearby community church that had been closed, is an optimist that the future is bright for the Forestburg church.
"I think that this is one of the best things to happen in a long time, to have a full-time pastor is important to us and to the whole community," she says.
The 60-member church has an average Sunday worship attendance of 57, and pastor and congregation are intent that the numbers will continue to increase.
As the building project develops, Rev. Campbell is focusing his energies on making disciples. His goal was to add ten new members to the Forstburg roll in 2008, a target that will likely be significantly exceeded as the church took in seven new members by April.
Consistent with a community that takes great pride in its school, the church is especially intent on building its children’s ministry. A new children’s choir practices weekly, and the church is proud of its Youth Program, that includes a youth director on staff.
Finance Committee Chair Don Farrell agrees that the parsonage project is a big commitment, but commitment isn’t something new to the congregation. He recalls building projects in the 1980's and 1990's that included refurbishing the sanctuary, adding new pews, and adding the education building.
Two other church members providing able leadership for the project include hard-working Building Committee Chair Paul Braswell and Trustee Chair Dan Gentry.
Braswell emphasizes that Forestburg UMC is not only intent on serving its community, but also committed to being part of the UM connection. "We always pay our apportionments on time, and believe that it is a matter of pride and self-respect to do what is right."
He adds that all the members have different responsibilities, different gifts and talents that contribute to the well-being of the whole.
"Building the parsonage will take the Forestburg church into venture of new opportunities and hope, as we plan and build for families to be part of our growing community of faith," Rev. Campbell says.
Individuals and groups who may be interested in offering their skilled help during the parsonage finishing, or for other special projects are invited to call Rev. "Sam" Campbell at 940-964-2370, or send an e-mail: email@example.com.
Forestburg members gather near the stand of trees where a new parsonage will soon be built on the donated land.
Families bring multigenerational energy to Forestburg UMC.