While some local congregations build floats or manger scenes as a major project, one church in Illinois is looking to build something more aerodynamic.
River of Life Community Church of Clarendon Hills is in the process of completing airplanes for the purpose of using them for mission work in the East African nation of Mozambique. According to Annemarie Mannion of the Chicago Tribune, progress is already being made on the frame of the stainless steel plane, known as the Zenith CH 801.
"The wings of Zenith CH801 have been assembled on the carpeted floor of the River of Life Community Church while volunteers plan in the weeks ahead to install the fuselage to connect the cabin and the tail," wrote Mannion.
"All that's missing is an engine for the plane that church members want to ship to Mozambique where it will be reassembled and used for mission work."
Jeff Tideman, a pilot and flight instructor from Villa Park who is helping River of Life with the project, told local media that once completed the plane should have a take-off distance of about 390 feet.
Tideman also stated that the plane should have four seats and be able to carry a half-ton of supplies for those in Mozambique.
River of Life has set up a website for the purpose of fundraising for the effort, known as the "Airplanes for Jesus" ministry.
"The vision is to build four aircraft initially to begin a missionary aviation program in Chimoio Mozambique. Airplanes will bring: doctors, medications and nutritional needs like the Moringa tree seeds that grow into trees, even in dry areas to provide all the nutrition a family needs," reads an entry on the site.
"Church plants won't have to wait weeks for a missionary to return. Airplanes for Jesus (AP4J) is building airplanes for pilot missionaries who don't already have airplanes in Mozambique Africa."
The Wordpress-powered site has a page for donations, with the suggested amount being listed as $200.00.
Efforts to construct the planes included an "open house" event held by River of Life on Saturday, May 18, which included activities for kids as adults helped construct the plane.
Calls made by The Christian Post to River of Life Community Church of Clarendon Hills were not returned by press time.