BY MELANIE BUCK –
One local Boy Scout is making a longtime dream come true for supporters of Rocky Methodist Church. Jordan Strickland, a senior at Mena High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 92, is seeking the highest scouting award, Eagle Scout, and has chosen the church as the recipient of this community project.
Scraping and painting the almost century old church is Strickland’s agenda and he is working diligently, along with help from other scouts, to bring new life to the 99-year old historical piece, that no longer holds services but sits silently overlooking the Rocky Cemetery. His fellow scouts include David Chaney, Travis Mos, and Jake Sawyer.
Strickland’s family owns property around the church and the cemetery that sits adjacent. He said that each year when he and his family attend the cemetery decoration, he looks at the old church and thinks, “wouldn’t it be nice to look up from the decorations and see a beautiful church sitting there. People come here to mourn the loss of their loved ones and so I thought it would be nice to make it look good.” And that’s where his idea came from; he just wanted to beautify his surroundings.
After conceiving the idea, he approached keepers of the church and found that they had been trying desperately for some time to raise the money to do exactly that, restorate the church by painting the building and building a new roof.
Although roofing is not in his future, Strickland has been more than happy to spend his days off from school scraping the old paint off and preparing for a fresh coat of primer before paint is applied.
The Rocky Cemetery Association, which is separate from the Rocky Methodist Church and they have donated $750 for the painting project. Also, Mike’s Home Specialties and Handy Hardware have both donated materials for the project. This is actually not the first Eagle Scout project that has been completed at the church. Strickland’s father, Will Strickland, explained that several years ago the inside of the church was painted by another scout earning his Eagle Scout award.
Jordan has been a Boy Scout for ten years and said his favorite thing about it is, “it kinda helps you grow up. It teaches you things that you wouldn’t otherwise learn unless you’re out in the woods everyday. I’ve learned a lot of things that I will take with me for a long time.”
Paula Cox of the Rocky Methodist Church Association said, “The Rocky Methodist Church Association and I are looking forward to seeing the outstanding accomplishments of these members of our community’s youth. We are very excited and thankful for all the time and hard work the boy scouts are putting in scraping and painting the historic old church.”
Fundraising efforts continue so that the roofing project can be completed as soon as possible. Although some donate to the cemetery, many don’t realize that the church is separate and until recent fundraising, the last donation to the church was made in 2009 in the amount of $50.
“The church has been a part of the lives and memories of everyone that grew up in and around the Rocky Community. This beautiful old building still stands vigil over our soldiers, fathers, mothers and loved ones buried in the cemetery next to it. This old church has withstood storms and droughts. It has seen weddings, funerals, meetings, fellowships and decorations and it will stand for another hundred years if we get the repairs done quickly,” said Cox.
Aside from monetary donations, local artist Bill Wells, painted a rendition of the church and prints are available. Prints of Wells’ painting can be purchased in support of the building’s repairs. The original copy of the picture is currently on display at the Union Bank of Mena and limited edition, 8 x 10 signed prints can be purchased for $35 from The Union Bank of Mena, The Shop, and George Davis State Farm Insurance on Main Street in Mena. In addition to the prints, greeting cards, post cards and 4 x 6 prints can be purchased at The Shop and George Davis State Farm Insurance. All of the proceeds of these sales will go directly to the repair and restoration of the church. Donations can also be made by depositing or mailing them to: Rocky Methodist Church Building Fund, c/o Union Bank of Mena, P.O. Box 898, Mena, Arkansas 71953.