American Baptist volunteers restore churches in Puerto Rico

As part of American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico” multi-year initiative, volunteers rolled up their sleeves in April for hands-on work at Mision Bautista de Arroyo and Iglesia Bautista Berea, Yabucoa.

“People helped me when I needed it,” says a volunteer. “Now it’s my turn to help others.”

Volunteers from the Landover, Md.-based Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community replaced the metal-louvered windows as well as the metal roof and its wood framing at Mision Bautista de Arroyo. Meanwhile, at Iglesia Bautista Berea, those from American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts and the West Virginia Baptist Convention replaced the metal roof in addition to painting the church’s hallways and offices plus the exterior of a small nearby building that houses the kitchen.

“The volunteers were enthusiastic, hard-working and eager to do the work under conditions that weren’t the greatest,” says Danny Ellison, ABHMS creative designer, who was on hand to photograph the transformation. (Scroll down to view photos.)

Because the need in hurricanes Maria- and Irma-ravaged Puerto Rico is so great, ABHMS is not limiting its volunteer-mobilization efforts to predetermined work weeks on the island.

 To register to volunteer, complete the “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico” online registration packet, indicating your preferred volunteer work week. Then either email it to Kim Wilkins at, or print it and send it by postal mail to American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Attention: Kim Wilkins, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA, 19482-0851. Or contact ABHMS’ Victoria Goff at 800-222-3872, x2449, or Kim Wilkins at 800-222-3872, x2413.

 Volunteers can create their own work group or be placed with a group. Cost of $150 per person per week includes housing, food and supplies. Volunteers are responsible for transportation to, on and from the island.