Newman has been working with Carpenters for Christ since 1982. He was the chairman of the Brotherhood Committee at his church, and heard about the group from Golden Springs Baptist Church in Anniston that had gone to build an Indian church in Oklahoma.
“Dewey Corder was the pastor, and he was standing on the corner one day in Oklahoma, and somebody asked him what his outfit was called. He said they were Carpenters for Christ, and the name stuck,” Newman explained.
The following year, a group from Talladega joined the Anniston group to build a church in Ohio. There has been a different project almost every year since. The group continues to growand now contains more than 150 people from at least 15 states.
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years, and this is the 30th project I’ve worked on. It’s time for a change, to let someone else get the blessing. I’ll still be working next year, but I’m going to let someone else worry about the rest of it. There’s all the preliminary work to do, making sure everybody gets where they need to be, ordering the shirts, making sure all the tools get put away. There’s a lot of things people don’t really think about that has to get done here.”
Perry Lee will be taking over the leadership role next year. “He’s got the personality and the know-how to get the job done,” Newman said. “I would have nominated him for the job, but he stepped up on his own. He’s a good guy, and I know he’s going to do a good job.”
Over the years, Newman has worked on projects in Ohio and Memphis (twice each), Louisiana, South Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi and numerous other locations. “It’s a great group of folks,” he said. “I’ve really met a wonderful group of men over the years. I would not be who I am today without knowing them. You can get pretty close to somebody by working with them for just 10 days. And working for the Lord makes a big difference, too.”
Newman went on to say, “It really is life changing, the men I’ve met and the miracles we’ve seen. If you’ve never experienced it, you can’t really explain it. You have to be part of it. You start out with a concrete slab and then when you’re done, 10 days later, you’re walking away from a congregation’s brand new brick building. It gives you chills.”
“We have a lot of fun, a lot of kidding around, but no bad language and no fussing or fighting,” he said. “That’s kind of a miracle in itself.”
This Year’s Project
Carpenters for Christ were not actually supposed to be working in Talladega this year. Newman said he had spoken with a pastor out of state who reassured him that the funding was already lined up, then said it wasn’t.
“I might have handled that better,” Newman said. “But some of the guys already had plane tickets and I had already ordered the shirts. And if you can’t depend on what a pastor says, who can you depend on?”
A series of other projects also fell apart until Newman heard about the Whosoever Will Men’s Sunday School class at First Baptist Church was outgrowing its current facility. The class already had enough money for the building supplies, and Newman agreed to take on the project. The Sunday School building would be fairly straightforward, however, and would not take the full group 10 days to do.
According to Danny Hubbard, Newman then contacted Chuck Roberts about constructing a welcome and environmental center for TOP Trails Park.
Hubbard said the building would have a covered porch and a sign in counter just inside the entrance. There will also be offices for the park director and assistant director, an accountant, a break room and employee restrooms. There will also be public restrooms with three showers each and a conference room where first time visitors to the park can view an off-highway vehicle safety video. There will also be a stone fireplace to match the stone columns out front, and a large maintenance and storage area in the back.
In addition to paying at the check in desk, Hubbard said future visitors to the park will also be able to buy tickets online, using software similar to what is used by several major aquariums.
Thursday was the last full day of work for the carpenters, and the TOP Trails building will not be complete, but most of the major construction will be done. The week will close out with a banquet for all the men involved in both projects at the Alabama School for the Blind. The advance team was also given a fish fry at the Mount Canaan Baptist Church Family Life Center with food supplied by Ronny Mabra of Community Curb Market. Mabra also supplied the food for the carpenters through the week, Newman said.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.