By Mike Boff
The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Bat Cave, established what most people consider to be an unusual ministry as part of their church’s mission to attend to those in need. Their Firewood Ministry is a pretty simple, straight forward yet significant one. Congregational members cut and remove trees that have fallen for property owners. The wood from these trees is then split and delivered to homeowners throughout the area that rely on wood for heating their homes in winter and for cooking throughout the year. These are families that do not have the money to purchase wood or the physical ability to obtain the wood on their own, and in many cases are elderly folks living alone. Without the wood, these families would lack the heat needed to maintain their health during the cold months or have to make other difficult choices.
The church members meet once a week on Monday and work for a few hours. The church has purchased a splitter, it has access to a couple of trucks and a trailer and the wood that is split each week is typically delivered that same day. The group is small but the need continues to grow. On average the small group of members, committed to make a difference in the lives of those around the area, usually 4 or 5, is able to split and deliver roughly a cord or more of wood each week. (A cord is a stack of wood measuring 4 feet tall, by 4 feet wide, by 8 feet long.)
Those families fortunate enough to own a good wood stove and live in a well insulated home are burning 4 or 5 cords each winter. This however this is not the norm. Many of those that rely on the church’s efforts are families that cannot afford an efficient wood stove and live in homes that are not well insulated. For them the need can double or more. To these families it is a ministry that has had an immediate impact on the quality of their lives.
Considering a cord of hardwood can cost anywhere from $150 to $250 dollars to have delivered and stacked, the church and it’s dedicated members who assist with this important effort have delivered nearly $20,000 worth of firewood over the past several years.
There are a couple of ways those interested can help. One is through direct participation. Interested individuals don’t have to be able to run a chainsaw or lift heavy loads to be of service. They do however need to be able to carry split firewood over uneven ground. The other way is providing trees or split wood. This is a little bit trickier. The church receives many calls from people with trees down only to find out they are in a hole or hundreds of yards from the road. The church does not have the manpower to deal with those trees. The best thing you can do if you think you have trees that the church can help with is to take a photo and email it to Wes Shields. He will get back to you about the church’s ability to help. Anyone who thinks they may be willing to help should contact Wes Shields at email@example.com and he will be happy to answer any questions you may have.