Retirees travel country to help congregations build

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) -- A 7,900-square-foot addition to the Risen Christ Lutheran Church will be a work of faith.

Construction is being led by Laborers For Christ, a group of retirees that travels the country working for minimum wage building churches, schools and ministry organizations. The St. Louis-based group is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

The group formed in 1979 to build churches and schools in the Midwest, and has expanded nationally to 350 laborers and 60 foremen.

The Springfield project in western Ohio includes plans for five classrooms, a youth room, a preschool and offices.

Group leaders Dale and Irma Mellendorf, of Effingham, Ill., are retired dairy farmers who've been missionaries for 13 years. They said they've been to 17 states with Laborers For Christ, living in a recreational vehicle and staying as long as it takes to finish a project.

Group members don't need a construction background, Mellendorf said. The church hires professional contractors to install heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical work and roof trusses.

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