Laton UMC: A Celebration of a Job Well Done

August 12, 2009

United Methodist Volunteers in Mission from the California-Nevada Annual Conference, working alongside Laton, California residents and agencies, have successfully "rehabbed" the historic Laton United Methodist Church. It was an "amazing" partnership, according to UMVIM Interim Director Phil Bandy, who adds, "The presence of UMVIM teams was a witness to United Methodists' desire to share God's Love by their service and actions."


The Laton UMC building does not house a congregation, at present, but serves as location for community events such as "Movie Night," houses a clothing exchange bank, and provides spillover space for youth and children's events organized by the Neighborhood Activity Center across the street.


The Fresno District Missionary and Church Extension Society put out a call for volunteers, early this year, to do some repairs to the building and give it a fresh coat of paint - so that it could continue to serve the Laton community for many years to come. (See Instant Connection stories New Mission Opportunity - Right Here at Home, March 13, 2009, and Laton UMC 'Facelift' Is Progressing Well, April 8, 2009.)


Once the news was out it didn't take long for teams to arrive. The Care-A-Vaners showed up first, on March 29, 2009. These nomadic volunteers regularly go in mission throughout the Conference, living out of their RVs while working on repair and building projects. They sprang into action right away, scraping and taping church's walls in preparation for fresh paint. In a very short amount of time they were able to paint much of the structure and set Laton UMC well on its way to restoration. (View photos of Care-A-Vaners here.)


Picking up where the Care-A-Vaners left off were the youth of San Ramon Valley UMC, led by Michael Stephenson. This team of 25 arrived at Laton UMC for the week of June 20-27 and continued with the painting. They camped on the back lawn of the church and cooled off from the long work days under the sun in the nearby Kings River. The youth team completed its work at Laton on June 27. (View photos of SRV Youth Team here.)


Fresno District leaders and members of the nearby Hanford UMC see the building as an essential mission outpost in the predominantly Hispanic Laton community. They hope the building "facelift" mission and outreach and partnership efforts it generated may lead to development of a UMC congregation there again someday.


Congratulations are due Laton and all the many volunteers for a job well done! They include R.J. Hill Co. and Randy Hill; Tri Valley Plastering, Inc. and Jim Gibson and Terry Easton; Mid Valley Disposal, Sean Kalpakoff; ICI Paints, Roger Round; Verdegaal Brothers, Inc., Russ Verdegaal; Tim Atkinson; This Old House Needs Fixin', Michael Wenthur; Laura Martin; Kings County YMCA; Hanford UMC; Lemoore UMC; Armona UMC; Sun Belt Rentals; Shawn Spraetz; and Tom Paden.