Mission Teams Help Restore Historic Home - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mission Teams Help Restore Historic Home

Midwest Methodists are working alongside California Catholics to help restore a historic home in Gulfport.

The Powell house on 14th Street has weathered dozens of storms since 1913. Now, a determined team of Christians is fixing the damage caused by Katrina.

Hammer sounds echo off old wooden walls. While Catholic volunteers nail new wood in one room, their Methodist counterparts measure boards in another. This ecumenical symphony of construction sounds is sweet music to the home owner.

"Wonderful. Wonderful. From where it was, I didn't think I'd ever see it looking like this again," said Oma Odem.

"I'm horrible at this!" said Annie Merkle, as she tried to hammer a nail.

Merkle may lack the skills of a master carpenter. But the intentions of her heart reflect the common cause that finds Catholics working side-by-side with Methodists.

"I love it. I love it. I love how we've sort of put behind our differences to get the same mission accomplished. It's a wonderful thing. It's a beautiful thing," said Merkle.

Cathy Jo Summers is with the Methodists from Indiana.

"It was a little overwhelming. But as we thought about it and prayed about it, we thought, well, we can do this. We can't do it all, but it's been great to have another group. That way we got a lot more done," she explained.

"Thank you all for being here. You're making a tremendous difference," Bishop Thomas Rodi told the group.

A mid morning visit from Bishop Rodi boosted the volunteer spirit. He joked about "blue shirts" working alongside "green shirts," and praised everyone for bringing hope to South Mississippi.

"Because not only are you a blessing to Mr. Powell here, you're a blessing to everyone else who passes here and sees another house is getting redone. And that brings hope to all of us," he told them.

It's hope that is especially evident in one happy home owner.

"I can't even eat, I'm so excited! All this week has been exciting," said Odem.

Hurricane Katrina ripped part of the roof off the Powell home. Rain water soon gave way to mold in the mostly wooden house.

Thanks to several teams of volunteers, the mold is gone, and much of the damaged wood has been replaced.

By Steve Phillips

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