CLEARFIELD — The blackened vestiges of the burned Clearfield Community Church have been pulled away but the resolve of a congregation and the community that supports it will be on display Saturday at its annual garage sale fundraiser.
The cause is clear: Preserve a youth trip threatened when goods for the garage sale went up in smoke.
"We are all part of the body of Christ," said Karl Dumas, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ogden. "We encourage each other, work together and support one another."
When a fire broke out at the church March 19, decimating garage sale items and supplies, the first assumption was that this summer's youth mission trip to Wyoming would be canceled, said Laura Phillips, the church's missionary chairwoman.
"We had lost all of the supplies we were going to use for our annual garage sale and spaghetti dinner fundraiser on April 20, which would fund the youth trip," Phillips said.
The congregation was without a building, but not alone. Local LDS and First Baptist Church youths stepped in to help make the annual fundraiser not only possible, but bigger than ever.
"We offered our church facilities and wondered how we could make it a little bit easier adjustment for them," said Clearfield resident Shauna Reynolds, a young women's leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "That's when we came up with these needs, which evolved into this car wash, garage sale, bake sale fundraiser."
Dumas said about five youths from his congregation will be helping out, and at least two of them plan to join their fellow Christians this summer at the activity.
"We are part of the same denomination, but even if we weren't, we would be at the aid of any church in the area," he said.
The fundraiser will be Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the LDS Stake Center, 935 S. State. All money generated by the event will be donated to the Clearfield Community Church for youth activities and church rebuilding efforts.
Bishan Abeysekera, who serves in the presidency of his Clearfield LDS stake, said church members wanted to help "in any way we could."
"We have always seen eye to eye on a lot of things, and we are often on the same page in terms of what we want for our community, so our gratitude matches theirs," Abeysekera said,
Phillips said the Clearfield Community Church has been overwhelmed by the support.
"As leaders of this trip, we would have done anything we could to scrape together something for these kids," she said. "But there is no way it would be as big or as beneficial as we anticipate it will be without the help of other people who have stepped in."
Fundraiser for Youth Trip:
- When: Saturday, April 20
- Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Where: Clearfield LDS Stake Center: 935 S. State St.
Beyond the monetary aid, Phillips says the experience will be educational for all.
"It's so wonderful to see that our youth are observing complete strangers from LDS churches and other churches in the community working with them, partnering with them, talking to them and helping them achieve something they've been looking forward to for so long," she said.
"I have seen what happens when people come together and work for one goal. The result is always awe-inspiring. And whether we raise $10 or $1,000, I'm looking forward to the experience the kids are going to have with this."
Clearfield Community Church youths are equally grateful.
"I am so happy that people who don't even know me or the other youth group members are willing to pitch in so we can go on this trip. It still amazes me that so many people are willing to help."
"I am so happy that people who don't even know me or the other youth group members are willing to pitch in so we can go on this trip," said Nolan Dumas, 16, a member of the First Baptist Church of Ogden who plans to help with the fundraiser and attend the summer trip. "It still amazes me that so many people are willing to help."
Lexii Ramirez, 15, said she was devastated when she saw the building and their youth trip supplies go up in flames.
"I was really looking forward to going and meeting new people," she said. "I didn't think this many people from the neighborhood would help out this much, and I'm really grateful for it."
For 15-year-old Chambree Crockett, the fundraiser is a chance to rebuild and reunite a community.
"I plan to give my all be excited and be a great example and show that there is a possibility and we can do it," she said.
Hope Widner, 13, said the event can best be described by a favorite song lyric: "Into the darkness we shine, out of the ashes we'll rise."
The Clearfield Community Church has already been given a surplus of donations to replace supplies burned in the fire — paper, pens, pencils, glue sticks, crayons, toys, coloring books, cribs and food supplies — to make possible the continuation of their church and community education efforts, including Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Bible study, homeschooling classes and day care.
"They said they needed supplies, and we sent an email to different bishops," Reynolds said. "We told the Community Church that they can come grab what we rounded up. They sent three people, but when they saw the two rooms of supplies, they were astonished by the sheer volume and left to recruit more people to haul it back."
Pastor John Parsley said there has hardly been enough room to hold the materials.
The congregation has been meeting at Wasatch Elementary School as they begin work on new building plans. Parsley said the new church will be rebuilt at the site of the original church on the corner of 200 South and 500 East. Church leaders anticipate the doors will reopen in a year or two.
"We are not rebuilding for ourselves," Parsley said. "We are rebuilding for the next generation of Christians in the community."