Goodfellow volunteers fix up historic Texas church

From left to right, Airman Kerry Dilis, Airman 1st Class Sherry Kedrowski and Airman Justin Cox, technical school students from Goodfellow, remove the old Zoar United Church of Christ sign. Students and permanent party from Goodfellow volunteered to fix up the historic church Feb. 3. (U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kelly Bales.)

From left to right, Airman Kerry Dilis, Airman 1st Class Sherry Kedrowski and Airman Justin Cox, technical school students from Goodfellow, remove the old Zoar United Church of Christ sign. Students and permanent party from Goodfellow volunteered to fix up the historic church Feb. 3. (U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kelly Bales.)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Have you ever heard of Rowena, Texas? I hadn't either until a few weeks ago, when I started to organize a volunteer project to help the Zoar Community Church prepare for their 100th Anniversary. This small town, home to approximately 714 people, is full of rich history.

Although you won't see it on the welcome sign, Rowena is where Bonnie Parker grew-up. After she moved away, she teamed up with Clyde Barrow during the Great Depression and robbed many banks. In this now quiet town, it's the Zoar Community Church that really stands out. Despite its age, the church is in wonderful shape. However, there were still a few things that needed work.

I had the best source for volunteers with a servant's heart. As the 6 p.m. New Life Contemporary Worship Service music director here at the base chapel, I get to lead worship for a congregation of forty to seventy people, the majority of which are students. It's been such an uplifting experience for my wife and me. We really enjoy the opportunity to be mentors in the base chapel.

After making some announcements and tapping into more volunteer resources at the Crossroads Student Center, I was able to find 13 volunteers, primarily students from the 312th, 315th and 316th Training Squadrons as well as the 344th Military Intelligence Battalion. These students were given the chance to roll up their sleeves up and apply a little elbow grease. Many of the students were Chapel White Rope student leaders looking to develop their leadership skills.

After a short prayer and safety briefing, the volunteers split up into several small workgroups. The first group really "dug" their task. Staff Sgt. Bryan Wright, a staff member with the 316 TRS, led the team to dig up an old church sign and install a new one. Airman 1st Class Sherry Kedrowski applied some skills she learned growing up in Minnesota by mixing the cement for the new sign posts. Airman 1st Class Anthony Montanari and Airman Brian Wright felt their job was more "tacks-ing" as they worked to install carpeting in the choir loft. The third team, led by Master Sgt. Ruben Acuavera, a member of the Crossroads Student Center support staff, "tore" into their work, taking down a wall in the basement of the Fellowship Hall. Army Spc. Erika Marambio and Airman 1st Class Sayna Kannika were "brushing up" their painting skills all afternoon. Also, two 312 Fire Dawgs applied some ladder-climbing skills to put up decorations.

After a few hours of work, the volunteers were treated to a good old Texas luncheon provided by the parishioners. Brisket, sausage, beans, and homemade desserts really hit the spot. After all the tasks were completed, several church member volunteers and the Goodfellow team got together for group photos and some laughs. Who knows? Maybe theses pictures will be shown at the Sesquicentennial Anniversary.

"Your folks just lifted our hearts so much and I wish you could have been with us (Sunday) during our worship service to hear the comments and prayers offered for them, said Pastor Arthur "Art" Mavrode, a 17th Training Support Squadron contractor with General Dynamics. " It was truly a blessing for all of us," the pastor added.
For those interested in celebrating Rowena's 100th Anniversary, the Zoar Community Church invites all to visit Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. at 511 Park Avenue, Rowena, Texas.

For more information, see the webpage at http://www.zoarcommunitychurch.org.