In the small Northeast Texas town of Ben Franklin, a big project is under way that will benefit not only the 100-plus residents, but also those in the nearby area.
The project starts with the Ben Franklin Community Church and will proceed to include several community outreach programs, including after-school programs, a day care, food pantry, job search and interview support, and several ministries targeting seniors, youth, and inmates.
"These programs are forthcoming, but the building has to come first," commented Shanna Hoskison, long-time Ben Franklin resident and church member.
Already conducting church services in a borrowed, downtown-area building, church members know ultimately a building is needed, and more importantly, the programs planned by the church are also needed.
"Often the little bitty towns get passed up, and funds go to the larger cities where there are more people," Hoskison explained. "But even if we have just 10 people in need of a service, those 10 people are just as important."
Al Clark, Ben Franklin Community Church pastor, added detail about some of the planned programs' benefits: "In today's economy, it takes both Mom and Dad to make ends meet, and we want to give kids a secure after-school environment. And, when it comes to day care for small children, there's not anything around here, except maybe over-extended grandparents and day-care in neighboring cities."
Plans are to begin the foundation work for the new building around the first of June, Clark said. The goal is to have the building, and programs, established by spring 2005.
"The primary purpose of this building is obvious, but in addition to being a church fellowship, we hope the facility will be used in many ways to contribute to the community and surrounding area," Hoskison said.
Church members have long been involved in raising funds to support community projects, missionaries, and other endeavors, even when their own need for a new building is in their plans. Recently, BFCC's children and youth began an ongoing "penny march." The first march, concluded after two months of collecting pennies, raised over $200 which was sent to a missionary in Kenya, Africa.
Clark, who was "born and raised in Winnsboro," has worked to help pioneer several churches in the Northeast Texas area, including Winnsboro, Hawkins and Paris. "In the beginning, many of the programs will be served by volunteers; but the main person, who will oversee the outreach programs, will be a paid position," he added.
Church & community members have begun promoting the building project, which is the initial step in their endeavor, by posting information on the community's website, mailing out newsletters, and having the efforts mentioned in newspaper columns. One community member, who wishes to remain anonymous, has already risen to the occasion and donated a 2-acre plat for the building. Anyone wanting to assist with the Ben Franklin Community Church's building project, can call Hoskison at 903-325-4344, or visit via email: or web:

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