Kent (WA) Church Building Funds to Aid Congo Schools

Post a Comment » Written on June 27th, 2006     
Filed under: News
KENT, WA (June 27, 2006) – Kent Covenant Church seeks to raise $2 million to fund improvements to its facilities, but some of the money will be diverted – $100,000 to be exact – to build roofs on a number of schools located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The south Seattle suburban church is attempting to raise funds to construct additional classrooms and offices and remove dry rot in the church’s 33-year-old building. Early in the planning process, church leaders decided to set aside $100,000 to put durable metal roofs on at least 20 schools in Congo, so that children in that country can get the kind of education that will enable them to break free from their third-world cycle of poverty.

“We knew we wanted to have a significant mission project as part of this building program,” says pastor Keith Carpenter.

The idea for the roofs arose in a conversation with associate pastor John Hamblen when Carpenter mentioned having read about the need through the Paul Carlson Partnership, a Covenant-affiliated organization dedicated to rebuilding in Congo.

“We were talking about the possibilities when John said, ‘Why don’t we take care of the need those schools in Congo have for roofs, since it was years of problems with our roof that pushed us into our building program.’ ” Carpenter recalls. They took their idea to the building committee.

“We were not prepared for the response we got,” Carpenter says. “We thought we might have some uphill convincing to do, but they put aside all of the architect’s drawings of what we were going to build here, and for 45 minutes the only thing they wanted to talk about was putting roofs on schools in Congo.”

The proposal was eventually presented to the congregation, which responded with enthusiasm.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly known as Zaire, endured one of the bloodiest civil wars in history from 1997-2002. An estimated 3 to 4 million people died as a direct result of the war and because of related disease and starvation.

Since the war, efforts have focused on rebuilding the infrastructure – hospitals, schools, roads, and bridges.

The Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM) has a contract with the government of Congo to provide K-12 education to all 49,000 school-age children living in the northwest section of the country – the government has not provided any funding since before the civil war. Teachers continue to teach, however, and where there is a school building, students are showing up for classes.

“They have almost nothing, but they’re so eager for an education that they still show up,” Carpenter says. “Imagine a second grade class of 90 students with one teacher, no textbooks, not enough pencils or paper to go around, and a teacher who hasn’t been paid for several years. It’s an incredibly heart-warming story.

“The kids show up and work on repairing their school in the morning, then sit down and receive instruction in the afternoon,” Carpenter continues. “Right now, they’re using poles and thatch for the roofs because it’s quick and available, but it leaks in the rainy season, blows off during high winds, and is highly combustible.”

The permanent roofs that will be built are made of corrugated metal placed on mahogany beams. The mahogany is available in Congo and there is plenty of volunteer labor, so the roofs can be built inexpensively. Carpenter expects the $100,000 to cover the cost of more than 20 roofs.

Kent Covenant also set aside additional funds so it can send a team of engineers and workers to address other infrastructure needs, like repairing damaged roads and bridges and restoring hydroelectric power.

Carpenter plans to travel to Congo in September to identify projects for church members to work on and to encourage the church there, which suffered large losses in the civil war.

To learn more about the needs in Congo, please visit Needs in Congo.

(Editor’s note: Our thanks to Rick Lund whose original article appeared in the North Pacific Conference newsletter.)

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog