The following is a guideline for those who wish to build a new church:
Start with a group of people who share a common creed.
Hold meetings rent-free in a residence until the group grows large enough to need and afford a meeting hall.
Attract people to the group who are willing to take on the heavy financial burden of constructing a building with lots of room to grow.
Be willing to spend evenings and weekends doing the site clearing, sawing, nailings, hanging, finishing and painting necessary to build the church with your own hands.
Pray daily and "Trust in the Lord."
The Charity Baptist Church in McLean recommends this formula, for it is a quick rundown of their own history. They started with a 21-person worship service in a living room the first Sunday in January, 1973.
The first Sunday after New Year's Day, 1978, they dedicated their newly completed, no-frills church building which can accommodated six times their present membership of 45, with a large sanctuary and an education wing for Sunday school.
It helps if the family who "got the calling" to start a church is in the construction business, as are Charity's Warren P. Jenkins and his four sons. The father, a McLean architect and builder, has designed and helped build "over 250 churches all around the East Coast."
The commitment to begin a new church orginated with the Jenkins family who could not find a McLean area church that adhered strictly enough to the literal meanings of the Bible.
"A fundamental Bible belief church would be a very accurate description of what we are," explained Pastor Ronald E. Edwards, a graduate of Cedarville Bible College, whose family the church takes pride in being able to support financially. The church uses tests published by the fundamentalist General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, but is not officially connected to any body.
By the end of 1973, the group had expanded into the McLean Arts Center and was considering a piece of ground tagged at $118,000, more than they could afford. Then they heard of a 3 1/2 acre parcel priced at $64,000. Before they could express their interest, the price was cut in half because the site had been turned down for three different building permits filed by prospective buyers.
The Charity group took this as a sign from God, a miracle, and bought the land, at the corner of Lewinsville and Springhill Roads, off Rte. 7. They paid it off in two years, instead of the three they thought it wmuld take.
Apparently things have been going well since for the congregation.
The Jenkinses designed a new building. When the subcontract prices came in at a total of $245,000 - with $140,000 their target - the congregation members decided to "take a big gulp" and build the church themselves.
"We were blessed from the very beginning," said Deacon Frederick Kyle. "We were able to work every single day" of the seven months the task took.
The people who worked at jobs during the day "often came as many as four or five nights a week and all weekend," said Edwards.
"I put up the roof carrying my baby," said Sandy Bost, as the congregation members took turns telling a reporter theri stories after church last Sunday.
The women hammered studding into place, put up much of the wall board, most of the roof shingles, spackled, painted, trimmed and did clean up work. The children helped, too. Often the older children looked after small ones so the adults could concentrate on the work.
The men did the rest, including clearing the site, which required $38,000 worth of work to conform to county standards. That means the actual 6,000 square foot buildign cost $74,000.The complete price tag was 152,000. The only work subcontracted out was mechanical, electrical and plumbing.
A total of 6,645 hours of work were donated at an estimated saving of $100,000, according to the calculations of project manager Jenkins.
Their community and friends were generous, too. "The only thing we, as a church, bought to furnish the inside was the pews," said Mrs. Jenkins, who is proud of her board-sawing ability. "The steeple was given, the piano, the communion table, and many tables and chairs also were given."
The church does not look home-made.
Last Christmas when the money was looking scarce to a church whose members mostly tithe, or give 10 per cent of their incomes, the board of deacons challenged everyone to give an extra week's salary. "They gave us an extra $4,000," said Jenkins.
The church was named Charity because the word "charity" in the Bible means "love" added Mrs. Jenkins.
The congregation, characterized as "cheerful givers" by Mrs. Edward express great joy at giving their money and time to building the church. Yet, they don't seem to think of themselves as exceptional.
"I hope this inspires small groups who are meeting in people's homes to have the trust in the Lord to build their own church," said Bernie Mullan, who drove 50 miles from his desk job at IBM in Manassas to help build the church.