In October 2007, members of the North Side Wesleyan Holiness Church had $64,000 and a dream. They wanted to build a mission home that would attract a full-time pastor who would live near their church and minister to the community.
With just 29 registered members and an average weekly attendance of 50, the congregation knew the work that lay ahead. But last Sunday, 14 months later, they attended a service of dedication for their new parsonage.
‘Who says a small church can’t do something big for God?’ board member Cassandra Ebanks asked.
Of course, the church got a lot of help. The back page of the dedication programme listed over 80 individuals and companies that contributed materials, services and/or funds. The final product is a home of 2,270 square feet built for $197,000.
‘We still owe $20,000, but we are committed to paying that off in monthly instalments, which the contractor has agreed to,’ Ms Ebanks explained.
The contractor, Desmond Dyer, handed over keys to the home on Sunday and thanked the congregation for the opportunity to be part of the undertaking. Mr. Dyer is the protégé of Brother Garfield Ebanks, who served as overseer.
It was Brother Garfield who got the project under way. He had read about the church’s fund-raising efforts in the Caymanian Compass and ‘The Lord told me I needed to help’ he said later. A retired contractor, he contacted Interim Pastor Conway King and the men met to finalise plans.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held in January, by which time the building fund had reached $70,000. As Brother Garfield, Mr. Dyer and the crew of his DNJ Construction worked at the site, church members continued to raise money with a gospel concert, fish fries and barbecues.
Perhaps impressed by this determination, people in North Side and around Grand Cayman made contributions to keep the work going.
During the dedication service, Ms Ebanks thanked the home’s architect, Jerome Grant from JAG Building Design Consultants, and Mr. Andy Parsons, who ‘willingly answered the call in adopting us from start to finish.’
She and Ms Patricia Ebanks presented a history of the original mission home. Built in 1943-44 along the main road, it became a landmark, especially after members added a front porch with distinctive arches in 1986.
Those arches are recalled in the new mission home, constructed well behind the church in an effort to avoid the wind and water damage that left the old home damaged beyond repair after Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Also taking part in the service were Rev. Roderick Wells and Brother John Jefferson from West Bay.
The church’s founders and its future came together in the ceremonial ribbon cutting, with young contributor Waylon Rovers wielding the scissors under the watchful eyes of Mrs. Louise Ebanks and Brother Jarold Smith.
With the front door open, everyone was invited inside to inspect their new edifice and then partake in a festive lunch.
The mission home will serve as a church hall and quarters for visiting pastors until a pastor is appointed permanently for North Side.