Volunteers from Crown Point United Methodist Church explore the dilapidated building currently in Roatan and the future site of new church center for the community.

A New Methodist Church for Roatan

By Bonnie J. Meyer

I was introduced to the island of Roatan, Honduras, in 2006 while on a mission trip with Hearts In Motion (www.heartsinmotion.org). HIM is an organization based out of Munster, Indiana that does mostly medical mission work in Central America. While on the island, I learned of its punishing poverty and resilient residents. It was a place where I knew much more work needed to be done than what we could accomplish in one week.

Roatan is a tiny island whose only steady source of income is the unsteady business of tourism. The majority of the permanent population of Roatan originated from the Cayman Islands near Jamaica. They arrived in the 1830’s, shortly after Britain’s abolition of slavery in 1838. Many of the population is English speaking or bilingual, speaking Spanish as well.

Nearly four years ago in early 2011, I led the first mission team from my home church of Crown Point First United Methodist to the island. We fell in love with the island and its people. While there we worked with Pastor Joe Summers of the Oklahoma Conference in mission and ministry alongside the people of Roatan. Our team held a three-day Bible School at Bethesda Methodist Church in Flowers Bay, worked on construction at the Methodist Bilingual School in Coxen Hole and held a one-day health fair in Flowers Bay, where we distributed over-the-counter medications, as well as tested blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

One evening Pastor Joe, who was working with the Methodist churches on the island, took us to the site of a condemned, crumbling Methodist church in the town of West End. Each of us felt a sadness at the site of this dilapidated building. Travel on this mountainous island is difficult, few people own cars, so it was difficult for the people who had worshiped in this building to attend another Methodist church miles away.

We returned in early 2012 with another mission team including Jim Smith, an architect. When we went to the site of the West End church that year, the building had been torn down but a dream was born to design and build a new church for this community. Jim began to design a beautiful, multi-functional building that will serve as a medical clinic, community center and beacon, in addition to being a house of worship. Mission teams will be able to use the building to conduct “free medical clinics”, “concerts”, “Bible Schools” and so much more.

Crown Point First is leading the fundraising for this incredible mission. In February of 2013, Pastor Tom Shanahan, Associate Pastor of the Crown Point First UMC, challenged the congregation to a four year goal of raising $100,000. Two years later the congregation is at the half way mark and on course to meet this goal. However, the total cost for this new church is $312,000 and we are committed to building this church.

Crown Point First continues to send mission teams annually to the island. In August of 2014, ground was broken for Phase One. Funding is needed to continue. We invite you to join us on this incredible journey to help build God’s Kingdom on Roatan. Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated. Speakers are available upon request. For more information, please contact Bonnie J. Meyer, director of missions and outreach at meywyss@comcast.net or 219-663-1515 for more information. Donations may be mailed to: Crown Point First United Methodist Church, 352 S. Main Street, Crown Point, IN 46307.