According to an old saying, people who heat with wood are warmed twice; once when they cut and stack the wood and again when they burn it. The wood ministry, Newberg Friends’s partnership with Love INC, provides many more opportunities for warming.
The process starts with the “sawdusters.” This group of mostly retired fellows works during the week to find, cut, and haul wood to Friends Cemetery for further processing and stacking. It’s not unusual for this process to include breakfast—or at least coffee to warm the inside before the work begins.
At 9 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month, the sawdusters are joined at the cemetery by an eclectic group of volunteers who split and stack the wood that has been gathered throughout the month. While we take advantage of hydraulic splitters, our work still generates some serious heat, evidenced by the sweat stains on my work shirts. Soon after 11 a.m. we stop to enjoy coffee and other hot drinks provided by Chapters and fresh coffee cake or muffins from my oven.
Beginning in late November, the third phase of the wood ministry heats up: deliveries. Led by Dale McLeland, a ragtag group of volunteers delivers small loads of wood to people in the greater Newberg/Dundee area. All that is needed for this effort is access to a pickup or trailer, a semi-strong back, and a willingness to bless others. I have repeatedly been blessed by the gratitude of people who receive the wood, and I am warmed by the work and the appreciation. Once in a while, I get the added blessing of delivering wood to families I know through my paying job, and they get to see me in a different role and setting. I try to remember to pray for those who will be warmed by the wood I deliver.
All three phases of the wood ministry provide opportunities for service to others; each one continually enlists additional workers. You do not need particular skills, and you do not have to make a long-term commitment. The easiest way to plug in is to show up at a workday on the second Saturday. In addition to the work and fellowship, there is ample opportunity to network with others.