Congregation thankful as successful rebuilding effort ends

SOUTH LONDODNERRY — First Baptist Church of South Londonderry has been rebuilding after the previous building was destroyed by a fire in August 2010. With the help of a matching gift donation, the congregation is making the final push to finish the building project and start using the building.

When the members of the church prepared to rebuild, they wanted to have a building that they could share with the community. What they did not realize was that it would take a community to rebuild the church building. Over the past seven years, many people, organizations and companies have volunteered time and materials to make the building a reality.

The first two years were mostly spent in determining how to move forward, dealing with their insurance company, cleaning up the site, finding a place to meet and making plans for a new building. The members of the church want to thank the town of Londonderry for providing a space to meet, as well as Daniel Pratt of Robert Carl Williams Associates for getting involved early on in helping with the insurance claim and going on to design the whole church building.

The next two years were spent on purchasing the adjoining property. This land was needed for a new driveway, to meet setback requirements, for added parking spaces, for drainage, and to get their final permits approved by the town and state. The land was acquired in summer 2013. That fall, the land was cleared, the house was taken down, and the hill (over 6,500 yards of fill) was removed.

The members of the church hope to give credit to a few people and companies that not only made this possible, but have continued helping with untold amounts of donated work and materials to make building our church a reality.

First and foremost, Raymond Smith Excavating tore down the house, put in the driveway, built the retaining walls, dug the foundation, dug the drainage, donated materials and trucked materials out. Scott Howe of Big Rock Gravel removed the fill, as well as donated stone. Cobb Lumber cleared trees, did site work, as well as donated large stones, gravel and topsoil. And finally, Jeremy Brodney, of Brodney Enterprises, did all of the engineering and surveying for the church building as well as the layout for the water storage tanks, drainage and handicap access to the building.

The members of First Baptist Church are thankful for everyone who helped in the beginning stages of building. Bids for construction of the building went out in spring 2014. First Baptist Church awarded the contract to Russell Construction Services of Rutland on June 15, with work starting immediately.

The members thank John Russell for saving them tens of thousands of dollars in value engineering, for guidance and for quality of construction. The members knew that they didn't have all of the money needed to complete the project, but they decided to move forward, completing what they could afford. Russell Construction completed the whole exterior of the building and framing of the interior. That work was completed by October 2015, though Russell Construction has continued to make itself available for advice. During the construction of the exterior, Doug Friant, of Vermont Timber Works, provided the timber frame entrance and interior timbers way below cost. Friant even delivered the timbers, supervised and assisted us in putting them up.

The members then took on the task of completing the building without a general contractor, using as much volunteer labor and materials as possible and fundraising for the rest of the money needed. By finishing the building on their own, their goal was to be the best stewards of the funds they had left and the funds they were to raise.

Services at the church took breaks over the winter months of 2015 and 2016, since the building was not heated.

In spring 2016, Dustin Washburn, of Southern Vermont Sprinkler Services, was hired to put in the required sprinkler system. Frost Well Drilling put in the pump, expansion tank and water softener. At this time, it hired Gary Barton and Taylor Barton, of Barton Electric, to do the electrical work, and they, too, have saved the church thousands of dollars and is working with Efficiency Vermont to get rebates.

A lot of volunteer labor was used in summer 2016 including organizations and churches outside the local community. SERVE, a group of youth and adults who come every summer from Hope Community Church in King of Prussia, Pa., has done lots of projects over the years, including painting, installing a deck, doing cleanup, and working on landscaping. Another group of men from Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., came and closed in their porch ceilings, built a deck and stairs and installed interior timber frame. The members of First Baptist Church are thankful for all of their hard work.

By fall 2016 fundraising efforts and grants came together, and they had the funds to move forward. They awarded the plumbing and heating contract to M&M Plumbing & Heating. They also came in and saved the church thousands of dollars in value engineering. They got the boilers in and working in December, and they had radiant heat in the basement floor for the winter.

Jeff Duda, of Blue Flame Gas, donated his labor in hooking up propane lines in the building. Jerrid Smith and Dale Griswald installed the propane tank and lines at no cost.

The church hired Builders Installed Products to insulate the building, Green Mountain Drywall to do the sheet rocking, Bennington House of Tile and Carpet to help out with some of the flooring, Tile Slate Marble to tile the flooring in the entryways, and First Line Security to install their fire alarm system. Also hired was Forbes Construction to do the window trim on their stained glass windows and chair rails. Many of these companies have given discounts, and church members are grateful.

Mark Wright, of Rugg Valley Landscaping, installed the plantings outside their building. He donated 15 evergreen plants and 15 lilac shrubs, as well as all the work and supplies including compost, grass, and mulch. Barry Pearson Jr., of Shine Hill Painting, helped out by painting the sanctuary at no cost. Payne Junker repaired the weathervane at a reduced cost. Others who have helped include David Stevens, Michel La Liberte, Wayne Blackey, Bruce Thomas, and Mark Miller. Churh members also give a special thanks to Larry Prouty, who has been working at a reduced cost by using his carpentry skills to get the building finished.

Also to be thanked are church members and friends of the church for all of the work that they have done this past summer and fall. Every Saturday morning, as well as at other times throughout the week, many people have been working on projects.

While there is not enough space and time to mention the names of all who have helped us out with advise, labor and materials, First Baptist Church appreciates all the time and effort that they have put into the building.

The congregation at First Baptist Church is hoping to start using the building for services in the very near future. They would like to thank everyone who has put the time and effort into making this building possible.

First Baptist Church could not have rebuilt without the donations from those in the community and beyond, and they will print at a later date a list of those who have donated money. First Baptist Church is nearing the end of raising funds for its building for the added expense of meeting current commercial building codes. Donations toward the rebuilding project can be made online at its website below or mailed to First Baptist Church, PO Box 278, South Londonderry, VT 05155, with "building fund" in the memo. For more information about the building, including a video tour, take a look at or call 802-856- 7266.

Blackey lives in South Londonderry, and is co-pastor of the First Baptist Church in South Londonderry. She can be reached at 802-856-7266 or


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