Water of Life Church building going up in Cowley

By David Peck

There’s a church raising taking place in Cowley this week.

Members of the all-volunteer Church Building Ministries, Inc. of Summit, Mississippi, gathered in Cowley last Friday and since then have worked to erect the Water of Life Church building.

The church site on South Third Street East across the street from the car wash in Cowley was dedicated a little more than two years ago, and fundraising has been going on since then to purchase building materials, even as the cost of materials has skyrocketed.

“It’s all volunteer. We haven’t paid for anything,” said Pastor Johannes Slabbert, referring to planning and construction. “The drawings were free, and it took a while to get blueprints and make sure everything was up to Wyoming code. We raised funds (for materials) from all across the nation.”

Slabbert said an initial $275,000 was raised, but another $200,000 was needed, which came in the form of a single large donation over the winter, allowing the project to move forward.

The project planning has been spearheaded by church member Steve Winters,
Slabbert said.

With building materials arranged, Slabbert and Winters turned to CBMI, which sent a crew of 29 volunteer builders to Cowley. Under the leadership of Jack Honea, many of the
volunteer carpenters are from Mississippi but also represented are Tennessee, Louisiana, Indiana and Colorado. Four to six local people are also involved in the project.

Work began Friday, July 30, and should wrap up this Friday. The foundation was ready to go, and the crew went to work building the floor trusses, floor and the walls, each of which have been built lying flat, then raised into position and fastened together. Some internal walls will be constructed, as well as the roof.

“We might come back in September to get the roof dried in,” Honea said.

None of the volunteers are professionals, but on this project there are no first-timers, Honea said, noting, “We learn new things on every trip. God takes willing people and puts it together. That’s our ministry. We look for churches that need to expand or need a building that cannot do it on their own.

“If we can go help a church, half the cost of the building simply goes home afterward.”

“We could not do this without Jack and his crew,” Slabbert agreed.

There are a couple of young people on the crew, but most range in age from 56 to 82, Honea said, adding that the cost of building materials is a major challenge for growing churches. Whereas the ratio of materials to labor was typically 45:55, now it’s more like 60:40.

The current construction is phase one of the Water of Life facility, Slabbert said, and the 4,000-square-foot building will include a foyer, sanctuary, four to five classrooms, a kitchen, restrooms, storage room and offices. The building will be peaked in the middle with wings to either side.