$10,000 is a lot of dough
‘Oodles of noodles’ crew pulls together to help Indiana church
Suppose you’re hoping to raise $10,000 to help pay for a major addition to your church building. Your first thought might not be making something you could sell for less than $5.
A group of dedicated volunteers at a church in Huntington, Indiana, knew it would take a long time to collect that much money by making and selling homemade noodles for $2.50 per bag. But they did it anyway.
The “oodles of noodles” crew at New Hope United Brethren in Christ Church embraced the idea of fellow church member Carolyn Gray and ran with it.
Pastor Ray Seilhamer (now retired) challenged the congregation to come up with ways to help pay off a loan the church got to finance construction of a Life Center – about a $1 million project.
The Life Center includes a gymnasium with stage that doubles as a sanctuary, a carefully designed kitchen, a large reception area, a large classroom, an enclosed playground/courtyard and space on the second floor for a growing youth group.
Building the new section made it possible to turn part of the older portion of the church into a library and bigger nursery.
Pastor Ray raised $10,000 for the project through a golf outing, and Carolyn was determined to match that amount.
“We had just started coming to church here,” Carolyn said, referring to herself and her husband, Tom. “We wanted to help the church.”
When Carolyn suggested noodle making, several helpers stepped forward. She even found people willing to donate eggs – one of only three noodle ingredients, along with flour and salt.
Pastor Ray wasn’t convinced that noodles would generate a lot of money, Carolyn recalls, but “he said anything would help.”
News of the project spread through the community, and people started buying noodles and telling their friends and neighbors about them. “We really kind of took off with the noodles,” Carolyn said.
Reaching the goal $2.50 at a time (the price later was hiked to $3) was challenging, but after about 6 years, the noodle crew reached $10,000.
That might have seemed like a good time to quit, but people in and around Huntington still wanted the noodles, so the noodle makers kept going.
New uses for noodle proceeds
Proceeds then aided other church needs such as sending kids to camp and supporting New Hope’s Spiritual Care Fund, which helps people with financial concerns.
“The orders kept coming,” Carolyn said.
The oodles of noodles team – Janice Alvey, Dave and Bonnie Walker, Charlotte Hippensteel, and Gene and Jerry Wilson in addition to Tom and Carolyn Gray – has enjoyed its time together.
“We’ve had so much fun doing it,” said Tom.
The noodle experience shows there are some interesting ways to raise money for a special church project.
“It has been such a great project,” said Pastor Amos Rawley, who previously served as youth pastor at New Hope and now is the senior pastor.
Pastor Amos returned to the church in 2015, after seminary, and served as an associate pastor with Pastor Ray. Pastor Amos took over shepherding the church in July 2016.
In fact, the pastoral transition was made official on the same day as a note burning to signify paying off the loan that financed the church expansion – roughly 6 years after construction started.
Volunteers aided building project
Dave Walker was chairman of the building committee and served as liaison between the church and the contractor.
New Hope members did a good portion of the work themselves, including the plumbing and painting, and others from the community pitched in to help with the painting, Dave said.
The idea behind the Life Center is to make New Hope’s facility a place for a variety of healthy activities besides Sunday morning worship. Home-schoolers regularly use the building, and Upward Sports basketball has used the gym.
And as people reflect in years to come about how the church paid for the addition, you can bet the noodle makers will be mentioned.
Pastor Ray says, “There’s an underlying issue – people of faith, who are not afraid to work, are a very fruitful combination.”
Jim Miller is a writer and editor at Everence and managing editor of Everyday Stewardship.