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GC2009: Building of Gordon's House is an Ecumenical Service Event

GC2009: Building of Gordon's House is an Ecumenical Service Event

Mary Ann Mueller in Anaheim
Special Correspondent
July 10, 2009

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA---300 pounds of nails are needed to hammer together 7,000 board feet of lumber. When all that the hammering is completed and the ears have quit ringing from the pounding noise, the basic frame of "Gordon's House" will be standing on the floor of the Anaheim Arena ready for transport to a neighborhood in Westminster, a community not far from here.

Gordon's House is a unique ecumenical Habitat for Humanity project bringing together more than 100 Episcopalians from all over the United States as well as Lutherans from Orange County, here in California, in a collaborative interdenominational youth service project. They will join forces to build their half of a town house creating a two-story duplex which, by New Year's Day 2010, will become the home of a recent widower and his two adolescent children.

The building of Gordon's House is the brain child of The Rev. Michael Archer at St. Wilfred of York Episcopal Church in nearby Huntington Beach who thought it would be a great idea to honor a former Episcopal priest by building a house in his name and getting the Episcopal youth involved as they come to Anaheim to be a part of General Convention.

The Rev. Canon Gordon Yeaton was a special friend to the Diocese of Los Angeles youth and also was a board member of Habitat for Humanity in Orange County. The bewhiskered priest was also a high school teacher whose passion was the area youth. His home became a safe haven for troubled young people. This loving priest died two years ago.

Now the young people have an opportunity to give back some of what they received. They are helping to build a house to honor their late friend and leave his legacy behind when they return to their homes following the conclusion of the Young Adult Festival at the 76th General Convention.

"Gordon's House", as the multilevel construction project has been dubbed, when completed will be a 1,137 square foot, two story duplex situated on a 45 X 120 foot lot in an established Westminster neighborhood.

Just as the youth are in partnership with the Habitat of Humanity to build Gordon's House so is the recipient of Gordon's House in partnership with Habitat of Humanity to participate in building his own home.

As a widower, the recipient of Gordon's House is expected to give 250 hours of sweat equity into the building of his new home. He also must take classes on home ownership, maintenance, and family budgeting and finances to help teach him he skills he needs to be a successful first time homeowner.

Here in Anaheim, the Episcopal youth are working hand-and-glove with the Orange County Lutherans who are also in the process of building a Habitat for Humanity house - the second half of Gordon's House.

Both groups need to engage in raise funding, gather building materials, and get volunteers to help with the sawing, hammering and other construction chores.

In all, the Episcopal portion of Gordon's House is about $250,000. So far, the Episcopal Diocese Los Angeles has raised $87,000 towards that goal with another $100,000 being kicked in by a generous Episcopal benefactor - Henry T. Nicholas III, a member of St. Margaret's of Scotland Episcopal Church in San Juan Capistrano.

The first nail in Gordon's House was driven in on Thursday (July 9). Quickly, the frame for the first wall was erected and pulled into a standing position, at which point The Rt. Rev. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles gave his blessing to the project. He, along with his bishop suffragan, The Rt. Rev. Chester Talton, and his assisting bishop, The Rt. Rev. Sergio Carranza, then signed the beams of the raising structure for posterity's sake.

Fr. Yeaton's widow, Ardell, also affixed her signature on the building lumber and helped swing a hammer in driving in nails. Several other Yeaton family members joined in the initial building thrust of Gordon's House.

Once the Episcopal youth are done with their portion of building Gordon's House, the skeletal structure will be carefully disassembled and trucked to its permanent location. This action happens tomorrow (Sunday) morning, where the various sections of the roughly framed house will be permanently rejoined and the rest of the house will be added to include dry walls, roofing, plumbing, electrical, flooring, windows and doors.

When December 30 rolls around, Gordon's House should be ready for occupancy. All the walls will be up, the flooring will be in, the kitchen cabinets will be set with all the painting and wall papering having been done.

It is then that the keys to Gordon's House will be turned over to its new owner and his children.

Because Gordon's House is a Habitat for Humanity project, the recipient will assume a very low interest loan with an extended payback period in keeping within his limited income.

---Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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