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FAITHFUL LEND A HAND : CLERGY HELP GROUP BUILD HOME IN T.O. FOR FAMILY.

Byline: Enrique Rivero Daily News Staff Writer

Sometimes Kirk DeWitt of Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village needs to set the sermon topic aside and reach out to the community with his bare hands.

That's why DeWitt donned jeans and safety glasses with more than a dozen clerics from churches and temples across the county Wednesday to help Habitat for Humanity construct a house on Beall Street. The home, already earmarked for a local family, was the focus of the county chapter's first-ever All Clergy Work Day.

``It's a very practical way to reach out to the community. It's a lot different than giving out tracts or sermons,'' said DeWitt, college pastor at the 3,000-member church. ``Jesus did a lot of work with his hands.''

About 16 clerics representing a variety of faiths and denominations volunteered to spend the day pounding nails, cutting wood and digging holes at the three-bedroom Habitat house that will go to the Schrader family when finished in a few months.

The organization hopes to make All Clergy Work Day an annual event, with perhaps more than one each year, said Austin Coe, church relations chairman for Habitat. Another is planned for May 22 in Camarillo.

The idea behind All Clergy Work Day is that participating clerics will tell their congregations about Habitat's projects in the county, inspiring their members to in turn volunteer their time, he said.

``We're trying to bring the pastors out here so they can get excited about it and take the message back home,'' Coe said.

Dennis Merritt Jones of the Simi Valley Religious Science Center for Positive Living has never worked on a Habitat project before but jumped at the chance when Coe contacted him a few weeks ago.

``I like the idea behind Habitat which is helping people help themselves,'' Jones said. ``Rather than giving people fish, I'd rather teach them to fish.''

Debbie Schrader, who was on hand Wednesday offering up some of the sweat equity required of any family that buys a habitat home, said she has been gratified by the outpouring of community support.

``Somebody is definitely looking out for us,'' she said, gesturing past the wooden beams overhead toward the blue sky above.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

Photo: (1--Color only in Conejo edition) Peggy Schultz-A kerson and Johnnie Palmer paint the foundation of the Habitat house.

(2--Color only in Conejo edition) Clergy from the Conejo Valley helped work on the home.

Dusty Locke/Special to the Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 25, 1996
Words:414
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