Prayers finally answered for Pittsfield Church

Posted Sept. 23, 2009, at 8:31 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Members of the Pittsfield Church of the Nazarene say their prayers were answered this week by both God and a crew from Top Notch Roofing of Clinton.

A year ago, the church purchased shingles, plywood and all the other material necessary to replace the aging and leaky roof on its Central Street building and the adjacent parsonage. That’s where the money ran out, and the shingles have been sitting beside the church ever since.

The situation turned critical when water began to pour through the roof last month. Members of the congregation, fearing the coming winter would devastate their place of worship, did what they do best: pray.

“We just didn’t know what we were going to do,” said Stan Brooks, a trustee of the church who last fall counted 14 holes in the roof. “It never showed a leak until a month and a half ago. Last week it really started coming through.”

Then came a phone call from Roger Reynolds Jr., co-owner of Top Notch Roofing. Reynolds, who has no prior connection to the church, noticed the shingles sitting outside recently while visiting his daughter in Pittsfield.

“You could tell they’d been there for a while because you could see trees growing up through them,” said Reynolds Wednesday, his tan and wiry torso slick with sweat from the crew’s first day of work on the project. “I looked up the number and gave them a call. I said ‘It’s your lucky day.’”

Pastor Pete Griffin said that phone call moved him to tears.

“He asked me if he could basically do the church roof for nothing and it was like a big silence on my end,” said Griffin. “I had to ask three or four times, ‘You mean for nothing?’ This is what we’ve been praying for from the very beginning.”

That was Monday. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, Reynolds arrived with a four-man crew, all of whom agreed to work for nothing. By early afternoon, they had stripped half of the church’s roof, replaced the plywood and put down a layer of weather-proof material in preparation for shingles. Reynolds estimated his crew would finish roofing the church and parsonage in about seven days of work.

Richard Park Jr., Reynolds’ business partner, liked the idea from the start. Asked by a reporter why he agreed to such a significant volunteer effort, Park said simply, “Why not?”

“You’ve got to give back to the community at some point,” he explained during a break from hefting materials up ladders to co-worker Joey Brown on the roof. “It’s all about paying it forward. You help somebody now and down the road when you need help, there it is.”

In a typical year, Top Notch Roofing has enough work to keep crews busy through December. This year, with the slack construction industry and economic recession, their work has all but dried up.

“We just slowed down a couple weeks ago,” said Reynolds, who has done charity roofing work during slow times in the past. “I’d rather be here doing something, rather than sitting at home doing nothing.”

Members of the church are nothing short of flabbergasted, said Brooks, who with fellow trustee Leonard Gere helped clean up construction debris at the site Wednesday. Brooks has been connected to the church for decades. In addition to his father being the pastor for five years beginning in 1969, Brooks married his wife there. In all of that time, he has never seen such a generous donation from outside the Nazarene Church community.

“I just thank God for this miracle,” he said. “There is absolutely no connection between any of us and any of them [at Top Notch Roofing]. The spirit just moved [Reynolds] to call.”

Gere agreed. “It’s a gift from heaven,” he said.

Asked about divine intervention, Reynolds shrugged his shoulders and puffed a cigarette.

“It’s got to be,” he said. “What else could it be? I do believe in God.”

Members of the church, in addition to making sure the crew is well-fed, are soliciting donations in an effort to provide some gratuity to Top Notch Roofing. To make a donation, send a check to Church of the Nazarene, Attn. Roofing Project, 200 Central St., Pittsfield, ME 04967.

“We’re really blessed to have these folks come by our side like this,” said Pastor Griffin. “I feel God’s going to bless them sometime.”

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