Faithful volunteers build church in one day in Iowa

The Calvary Tabernacle Church, in Perry, Iowa, went up in a little more than a day.

The Calvary Tabernacle Church, in Perry, Iowa, went up in a little more than a day.

And on the second day, they rested.

More than 300 volunteers teamed up to build an entire church in a little more than 24 hours last weekend in Perry, Iowa, and the sanctuary was ready for use by Sunday morning. The Calvary Tabernacle Church was the latest of more than 100 houses of worship built at lightning speed through the United Pentecostal Church International's “Church in a Day” program.

"Within ten minutes the four walls were up," said the Rev. Rex Deckard, who heads Calvary Tabernacle's sister church, Calvary Apostolic Church in Des Moines. "It was truly incredible."


The organization has been transforming burgeoning Bible study groups into full-fledged congregations for more than 30 years, and has become adept at the overnight church raisings. Once a slab is poured and basic plumbing is installed, the building begins. As supervisors coordinate logistics, volunteer tradesmen handle the wiring, carpenters frame out the walls and roofers cap the building, steeple and all.

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“It’s like a little ant mound,” Paul Wolff, a carpenter who has helped build 22 churches for the program, told

On Friday and Saturday, as this activity was repeated yet again, families cooked for the builders and children armed with bottled water kept the workers hydrated. The 2,900-square-foot church was done in just more than 30 hours.

"There isn’t anyone who came here on Friday, Christian or not, who couldn’t feel something electric in the air," said Gregg Davison, pastor of the newly-fashioned church. "I do believe we’re more visible in the community now."

They didn't set a record: The Church in a Day program, which has built churches in 27 states and in Canada, has finished projects in as little as 18 hours. And often, the clock is not the lone obstacle.

“I’ve seen them build in the rain. People was walking ‘round in the mud up to their knees," said Brian Hord, executive assistant to the director of the program.

Davison has a church now for the Bible study group he began seven years ago, and which outgrew its rented storefront. The new church is built for 100 worshippers, but double that number squeezed in on Sunday.

"We knew if we planted the seed, God said he would bring up a harvest,” Davison crowed.