A house of faith and meaning

Aug. 16, 2013 @ 07:32 PM

A brick-frame house on a street in a Thomasville neighborhood has become the latest example of people from different Christian denominations and personal backgrounds coming together to better their community.
Parishioners of First Presbyterian Church of Thomasville have a resource that could serve a need — a spacious house with a converted attic that’s been church property for 20 years or longer. The house has been used for different purposes, but now is vacant and worn. Paint peels from the walls, several window panes are broken or cracked and the hardwood floors are spotted with stains and indentations.
The church wants to convert the house into a place to help those in need, but didn’t on its own have the resources to take on a complex project. Then church members read a profile earlier this year in The High Point Enterprise about Empower House, a nonprofit set up two years ago through members of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Thomasville. 
Empower House was established as a separately operated charity that could tap into grants and other financial resources not as accessible to a church. The desire by the parishioners of First Presbyterian to restore the house as a community resource fits perfectly with Empower House’s mission — reach out in the community to target and address needs.
Now volunteers from the church and charity are pooling resources to fix up the house, which could fit a number of uses. The purposes under consideration include a transitional home for homeless people seeking independence or a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children, said Jackie Jackson, chairwoman of the board of Empower House and the member of Thomasville City Council.
The house will remain in the possession of First Presbyterian, but Empower House will become, in a sense, a tenant putting the property to a community use, Jackson said.
“Now we are in the process of working out the specifics of what kinds of families we want to serve, what type of programs we are going to have,” she said.
The 1,750-square-foot house, which dates from the 1930s, was left to First Presbyterian from the estate of a church member, said Phil Griffin, a member of First Presbyterian. The church rented the home as a residence for a time, but then decided it wanted to use the property in a different way, Griffin said.
The volunteers still are determining how much money and contributions of services will be needed to restore the house to a usable condition. But they believe they can recruit others in the community in service of the cause, said Jim Moore, a member of First Presbyterian.
“This is a real witness to the unity of the church,” said Nathan Peifer, who has served as interim pastor of First Presbyterian. “We have come together and worked together.” 

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528


Want to help?
First Presbyterian Church of Thomasville and the nonprofit group Empower House are collaborating to restore a former residence in Thomasville into a facility to help those in need. The church and Empower House are accepting contributions, which include materials and services from professionals such as electricians, HVAC technicians and plumbers. For more information, call the church at 476-4110 or Empower House at 355-8204.