By Cindy Solomon

Money from a Golden Cross Foundation grant will help repair Burton’s Chapel United Methodist Church’s parking lot to make the church more accessible and welcoming to members and visitors.

Kynett and Burton’s Chapel United Methodist churches in Sparta and Algood Tennessee received grants – $4,500 and $5,412 respectively – from the Golden Cross Foundation. Money from these grants was used to replace HVAC units and improve a parking lot.

Rev. Diantha McLeod, pastor at both churches, said, “In February 2019, both HVAC units at Kynett were in need of dire repair. One unit only heated and the other stopped working completely. A majority of the church’s members are 55+ years old – many with medical issues that become aggravated in extreme temperatures. Everyone knew it would be difficult to worship in the building in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, Burton’s Chapel’s older adult worshippers – about 65 percent of the congregation – faced accessibility obstacles. The parking lot, consisting of grass and a minimum of gravel, was filled with holes.

“During inclement weather – rain and snow – people had difficulty accessing the church building,” said McLeod. “People – some in wheelchairs – and cars would get stuck in the mud.”

Both situations severely impacted the churches’ ability to be welcoming and accommodating to members and visitors. After hearing about the Golden Cross Foundation’s grants during an older adult training held at Smithville (Tennessee) First UMC, McLeod submitted grant applications for both churches.

Thanks in part to grant money awarded, members at Kynett now have two new HVAC units and Burton’s Chapel members will soon have a graveled, packed, and rolled parking surface.

“It was a blessing to be approved for a grant,” said Kynett member Charles Bohanon. “I was happy that the HVAC units were installed in time for our homecoming in August. We also experienced an increase in visitors during the hottest months. Having cool air definitely made the church more welcoming and comfortable for all who attended.”

Burton’s Chapel members have seen God at work in their project and experienced an increase in their faith.

“At the beginning of 2019, the trustees knew the parking lot was becoming hazardous and needed repairs,” said McLeod, “but there was limited money for the project. With a matching grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, members are seeing that God has a plan and they are in God’s plan.”