HPUMC Centennial Stories

Stories from our previous 100 years as we look to the future!

Carpenters for Christ continues to answer a 'Call to Greatness' decades after its founding

“As we look south,” said Rev. Craig, “we have an opportunity to serve at this church like no one has ever served. You have an opportunity to serve Christ individually and as a church. You can change Dallas for Christ.”

Nearly two decades ago, a sermon was preached at Highland Park United Methodist Church that would forever change how the church offered help and hope to the Dallas community. It all started on Sunday, September 24th, 1995, when the Senior Minister at the time, Rev. Mark Craig called upon the congregation to focus their eyes on south Dallas.

“As we look south,” said Rev. Craig, “we have an opportunity to serve at this church like no one has ever served. You have an opportunity to serve Christ individually and as a church. You can change Dallas for Christ.”
That sermon, “God’s Call to Greatness,” ignited a fire in the hearts of several laypersons.

“The sermon electrified the congregation,” says Kent Roberts, HPUMC Archivist. “Within a few days, a handful of members… met in committee to explore whether the church should start building homes for the working poor in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.”

The Challenge

In “Carpenters for Christ: The History,” Roberts says the project was formally announced to the congregation on April 12, 1996. “The breadth of the response, which included young and old, new members and long time stalwarts, was quite extraordinary.”  

Construction on the first home with Carpenters for Christ began in October 1996. Six years later, in 2002, Highland Park United Methodist Church finished construction on its tenth home. That year, Rev. Craig accepted a daunting challenge, HPUMC would commit to building 100 homes with Habitat for Humanity.

And it didn’t stop there. Rev. Craig issued another commitment; an additional 200 homes with Habitat would be built in countries around the world.

“These commitments have made HPUMC Habitat’s largest partner in the world among church congregations,” says Joe Fortson, Outreach Associate with HPUMC.

“As part of this process, Habitat for Humanity International promised that HPUMC would be involved with the first Habitat house built in Afghanistan, which had been newly liberated from the Taliban following the September 11, 2001 attacks,” says Roberts. The home in Afghanistan was completed in 2002.

“But someone will say ‘you have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”  James 2:18

Looking to the future

As of February 2015, Highland Park United Methodist is still committed to the challenge accepted by Rev. Craig. Thanks to the hard work of countless donors and volunteers, Carpenters for Christ is beginning work on it’s 95th and 96th home in the Dallas community.

“If one can count, he can see the evidence of God moving through the 94 homes Carpenters has built in Dallas and another 170 which have been built all over the world,” says Fortson.

“But God’s presence is calculated in far more than numbers. It is seen chiefly in the transforming effects He has on the Habitat families and on those who give their time and money to this great cause.”

Each Habitat family is required to put in at least 250 hours of “sweat equity” into their new homes, working side-by-side with the very volunteers helping to make their dream come true.

“We get to know them well over a period of many weeks,” says Fortson, “but there is nothing like being with them on the day of the home’s dedication when that family sees the home for the first time. The happiness and real joy are not to be forgotten.”

“The true history of Carpenters for Christ is written by the families living in the dozens of homes made possible by the ministry since 1995,” adds Robertson.  “Carpenters for Christ has broken down walls within the church and walls between the church and the rest of Dallas.”

Category: Outreach, Church History
Decade: 1990's, 2000's, 2010's

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