When a church needs a new roof or more rooms, the members often sacrifice to make it happen.
Sometimes that sacrifice comes in the form of donations, like those that are helping pay for a new fellowship hall at Hermiston’s Faith Presbyterian Church. Other times it is a sacrifice of time and talents — even talents as unusual as unicycling.
“Any skill you have, you can use to serve,” Patrick Temple said.
On Thursday morning Patrick and his son Harrison, 17, put that idea to the test by unicycling their way from Pendleton to Hermiston to raise money for Hermiston Church of the Nazarene’s parking lot repaving project. At one point they had to stop because the chase vehicle warning drivers of their presence on the interstate broke down, and Harrison had to hitch a ride in the truck outside of Stanfield after a crucial washer on his unicycle came loose. But at about 11:30 a.m. — and 91 degrees — Patrick rolled into the parking lot, drenched in sweat.
“I was starting to cramp up,” he said, panting, as he hopped off the unicycle and turned off the bluetooth speaker attached to the handlebar blaring his favorite tunes.
The ambitious ride came about because Hermiston Church of the Nazarene has been needing a new roof and its parking lot was badly in need of repaving. The total between the two projects is about $45,000 — a steep ask for a congregation of about 180 members.
Pastor Eric Fritz said members have been sacrificing and scraping money together for their meetinghouse since January, and at about $3,000 short they were “pretty much tapped out.” That’s when Patrick came up with the unicycle idea, and Harrison volunteered to join in on the 30-mile ride from the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton to Hermiston Church of the Nazarene, putting in plugs on Facebook Live for people to donate to a GoFundMe account.
“Patrick has a very creative mind,” Fritz said.
Hermiston Church of the Nazarene isn’t the only church in Hermiston working on capital improvement projects. Faith Presbyterian Church is in the midst of a 4,120 square foot addition that will add a fellowship hall to the building.
Pastor Bruce Sexton said church members donated about $140,000 in one-time donations and then have pledged enough in monthly donations to help pay off the loan just under $300,000 that the church took out for the rest.
“Last build (when the original building was erected) we had a 20-year mortgage and paid it off in eight, so it’s a giving congregation,” Sexton said.
Saxton said the current building off East Highland Avenue contains a sanctuary that fits about 170 people, three classrooms, restrooms and offices. When he came to Hermiston three years ago there were about 40 people attending regularly and they could squeeze into the front hall area for fellowship activities. Now with about 60 people attending, there isn’t room.
“We can’t have a meal, we can’t have these types of things,” he said.
The new fellowship hall will allow for meals, parties, extra classes, wedding receptions and other activities. Sexton said the church would be able to rent out the hall to other groups, and is considering starting a preschool in the space.
The addition should be done by Oct. 1, and will be furnished with tables and chairs from Pilot Rock’s Presbyterian Church, which closed recently.
For Hermiston Church of the Nazarene’s new roof and parking lot, the work is done but the bill is due soon and the church is a little short, which is why the Temples decided to do their ride and have faith that would be enough to fill in the gap. They brought in about $1,800 from the ride but as of Tuesday were still about $1,200 short.
Harrison said his dad had been excited about the project.
“He bought a selfie stick just for this trip,” he said.
Before the trip Harrison said the furthest he had ever unicycled was about 20 miles, so the fundraising journey would be a test of his endurance. But Patrick said he wasn’t worried about his son keeping up.
“The student is now the master,” he said. “He can do stairs and all sorts of things I can’t do.”
On Thursday the Temples set out from the airport in Pendleton at 6 a.m. It was 66 degrees out and “cool and pleasant,” Patrick said. The ride along Barnhart Road was a breeze, but getting on Interstate 84 was a little scary.
“When the first truck passes you, it’s a little different ride,” he said, noting he quickly stowed the selfie stick. “It was hands on and paying attention.”
Harrison said he was disappointed not to be able to finish the ride due to technical difficulties, but it gave him a new appreciation for just how far it was between Pendleton and Hermiston.
“It’s something you don’t grasp until you’re in a car,” he said.
Fritz, who drove the chase vehicle, said he was grateful for the Temples for their help in raising money for the church, and for the other “awesome” members of the congregation who had given generously to the campaign over the past few months so that the church did not have to go into debt for the project.