ASHTON – For decades, the roof at Ashton Community United Methodist Church has had minor leaks. But two years ago, it got really bad.
“We literally had buckets in the pews,” Pastor Desi Larson tells EastIdahoNews.com. “There was nothing we could do to stop it.”
After many fundraising efforts and $185,000 later, the church now has a brand-new 312 pitched roof from Wild West Construction.
The original roof built in 1957 was a seven layer flat membrane roof. The drains were included in the design and actually drained water through the church from right in the middle of the roof.
“It was a popular design at the time, but it failed miserably. It was a constant effort to keep the roof water tight,” says Jack Baird, a member of the church’s Board of Trustees.
The roof was repaired numerous times over the years, but eventually required a complete replacement.
“The design got us through 60 years, but in the last couple years, the leaks were major and the damage more severe. Our repair jobs just weren’t (fixing the problem) anymore,” Larson says.
Fundraising for the new roof became a community and interfaith effort. Ashton’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Relief Society hosted a fundraiser that raised nearly $20,000.
“When the Relief Society said they wanted to help, my jaw dropped,” Larson says. “They went all out. They did an amazing raise the roof event with music, bounce houses, and auctions.”
“It was a wonderful, pleasant, heartwarming offer,” Baird says. “There is amazingly little friction and a lot of very close interfaith friendships in Ashton.”
Fundraising efforts began last August with a concert put on by Larson’s daughter. That event raised just over $500, which Larson described as “a drop in the bucket.”
The church’s congregation of 100 or so hosted many fundraisers over the next year, scrounging together a meager $23,000 of the total cost. The Relief Society’s assistance in July, combined with the Methodist church’s 30 year old endowment fund, loans and donations from across the valley allowed the church to pay for the new roof.
“It’s all completed, and now we’re having a party for the community,” Larson says.
Ashton Community United Methodist Church is inviting you to join them for a free “Loaves and Fishes” meal Thursday, October 18. They’ll be serving up fish, potatoes, bread, salad and cookies. The event is happening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 178 5th Street. “Loaves and Fishes” is open to anyone who would like to attend.
“This is not a fundraiser. We just want to say ‘thank you’ to the entire community,” Larson says. “It’s absolutely amazing and it has been humbling, touching, and beyond belief.”
In connection with the new roof, Albert J. Miller, the contractor with Wild West Construction, donated a newly renovated Bell Tower, which sits on the front corner of the church’s property.
“There was a bell on the roof from the original church in 1908. We now have a beautiful bell tower that is ringing again,” Larson says.
Baird says they plan to continue fundraisers and sell property over the next several years to pay off the remaining $30,000 to $35,000 they still owe on the roof replacement project.
Services at Ashton Community United Methodist Church are held Sundays at 11 a.m., with Sunday School preceding worship services at 10 a.m.