N.Y. Episcopalians Come to Aid of Baptist Congregation

NEW YORK – A New York Episcopal church is engaging in an unexpected act of charity, helping a neighboring Baptist church fundraise for renovations.

Antioch Baptist Church, located in Bedord, N.Y., is currently trying to raise $600,000 to construct a new second-story addition to their building and has been joined in its efforts by St. Matthew's Episcopal Church with no strings attached.

Church leaders were grateful for the kindness shown by the local congregation.

"It's overwhelming," explained Velma Lewis, a chairwoman for Antioch Baptist's development committee, to the Lower Hudson Online. "I cannot think of any previous experience where someone has come forward to make such an offer with no expectation of getting something back."

The situation arose when Bedford Baptist church leaders needed to address their lack of space. Their congregation had become cramped by their current state, and the members were in need of another floor to alleviate the busy congregation.

They devised a plan to add another 5,000 square feet upstairs to be used for classrooms, a nursery, and a youth center.

Church organizers planned on funding the project through community donations, and after raising about half of the proposed costs for building, they approached St. Matthew's Episcopal leaders in the winter. They requested help through a grant which would come out of the Episcopal Church's Bedell Fund.

Not only did St. Matthew's staff hand over a $50,000 grant, but they also agreed to aid Antioch through the rest of their project with their own fundraising efforts.

"This was something that was very important for us to be involved with," said Ellen Conrad, a St. Matthew's member and now a co-chair of the fundraising drive, to the Lower Hudson Online, "a program that would help strengthen their presence in the community."

The St. Matthew's congregant also noted the importance of Antioch in the community, and how they are a "spiritual cornerstone."

The renovation is expected to begin in the fall.

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