Hardy UMC builds much-needed ramp to make Emory Chapel accessible06-03-2011
By Amy Forbus
When the North District office sent out an e-mail letting its churches know that one of their own needed help, Hardy UMC responded.
Emory Chapel UMC, a Newport congregation with an average attendance of 18 people, had two members who could not attend worship because of accessibility issues. One had suffered a stroke, and another deals with limited mobility for other reasons. Neither could safely navigate the steps at the front of the building.
The Rev. Brien Hall, pastor of Hardy UMC, saw the district’s message and began asking members of the Hardy congregation whether they would take on the project. A group of men agreed, and they began to make plans.
On their first trip to Emory Chapel, the Hardy UMC team made some calculations and realized that the job would take more than an afternoon of work, and more materials than they had originally estimated. But they weren’t deterred--just delayed a little, Hall said.
“Once you sign on for something, and you see the need, and what needs to be done, you do it,” he said.
After learning what was required for a ramp to comply with city building codes and Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, the Hardy team devised a plan to build large segments of the ramp off-site. They used Hall’s garage as the construction location, and a church member’s trailer to haul the pieces 70 miles to Emory Chapel.
The Rev. Jimmy Mosby, pastor of Emory Chapel UMC, worked on the installation alongside the Hardy team. He said the whole congregation appreciates the dedication and effort put forth by the crew from Hardy UMC.
“They have done such a quality job. It is unreal… it is a first-class ramp,” Mosby said. “We just can’t say enough about all of their work and the grace they showed.”
“It all worked out,” Hall said, “and we were very happy that they were happy.”
He noted that the Hardy team even got to know some neighbors of Emory Chapel, who enjoyed watching the action from their front porches.
“It was really just wonderful to be able to meet some of the people,” Hall said. He saw one church member in her nineties shed tears of joy, because the new ramp meant she could return to worshiping with her church.
“We have a big belief here in the Hardy church that if we share what we have, we’ll always have plenty to share,” he said. “And God, so far, has taken care of us.”