The house that God (re)built

By Jason Miller
(posted 3.1.11)

When Lyman Baptist Church burned Nov. 10, 2007, its congregation was faced with a tough question: Was it time to dissolve their 105-year-old church? After all, the structure that had given their worship a home was completely gone, burned to the ground. All that was left was the church bell and a charred Christmas cactus plant, its pot melted, its roots mushy and blackened.

But the members of Lyman Baptist are not shrinking violets; they could just as easily have named their church “Bootstrap Baptist.” They are mostly volunteer-run, and they have no pastor: Church members do the preaching. So, even though they were down to 20 members, the congre-gation began holding services in the old Town Hall in Lyman, while they planned and prayed their way to a new building.

Using insurance money and donations of money and labor, church members rebuilt on the same property as the old church, although not on the same footprint. The new building encloses 5,700 square feet and includes a sanctuary, kitchen, foyer, small meeting room, office, restrooms, storage/electrical room, nursery, and a Sunday School room.

A common theme throughout the rebuilding process was donation of labor as materials were purchased—sometimes at a reduced rate or even for free. Several church members know their way around wood, for example, and used their skills to create a stunning ceiling in the sanctuary made of old-growth Douglas fir.

“Almost everything was ‘free labor, paid materials,’” said church elder Jim Cook. “Somebody always figured out how to do it or make it happen.”

Behind the church, a patio area is planned, complete with tables and seating. A gravel road leads down to an overflow parking area and a future recreation area.
Church members gathered in their new building for the first time on Feb. 6. The church is located at 31441 W. Main St., in Lyman. Sunday School is held every Sunday at 9:30 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. worship service.

The work of rebuilding is not yet complete, said Cook’s wife, Terri, who is working with other members to put the finishing touches on the interior and encountering surprisingly few roadblocks along the way when it comes to conflicting opinions. “We’ve been praying to be like-minded with decisions along the way, and it’s been incredible,” she said. “We’re praying our way through it: which styles of windows, curtains, curtain rods, chairs—everything. We all like the same thing.”

The salvaged church bell sits near the front entrance and still works. And remember that Christmas cactus? The church’s second elder, Ed Otto, took it home after the fire, thinking, he said, “I’ll give it a try and see what happens, because God can do anything.”

Otto repotted the plant and watered it well, but a year later, nothing had happened. He set it out on his porch and a couple weeks later, his daughter noticed new growth.

Full of lush growth, the plant now sits on a small stand just inside the front entrance, reminding everyone from where they’ve come and what is possible.

“It survived,” said Otto. “Just like our church, it survived. We’re building out of the ashes. God is good.”

Open house
Where:  Lyman Baptist Church, 31441 W. Main St., Lyman
When:  Sun., March 6, 1 p.m.
Info:  360.826.3287

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