Two Bossier churches have joined together to turn a tragic ending into a triumphant beginning for local veterans.
Emily Perdue, 16, Katy Watkins, 16, and Molly Reed, 15, were killed in an automobile accident in October 2006 while driving on I-49 through DeSoto Parish. Through this tragedy, their church homes have found a way to keep their memory and servant hearts alive.
First Baptist Bossier will sponsor the Emily Perdue home and the Simple Church will sponsor the Molly Reed home. Both homes will be built in the Scott-Dickerson neighborhood in Bossier City.
Asbury United Methodist Church has already constructed two homes in honor of Katy Watkins through a partnership with the Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana.
The Katy Build journey began in 2011. A home was built for a deserving first time veteran homeowner and the first Fuller Center home in Bossier City was dedicated on August 11, 2012. The second home built on ‘Katy’s Corner’ was dedicated on May 10, 2014.
Angela Pfanner, Program Director for Asbury UMC, said the new partnership with First Bossier and the Simple Church will continue and expand their original vision.
“There’s more to this story than just the house that Asbury built,” Pfanner said. “The idea of building homes for Emily and Molly was a hope for Katy’s church and family from the start. It’s a way to share a legacy of love in a way that makes a lasting difference.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Pfanner said the focus has turned to uniting the community.
“The girls were about building bridges and we are working collectively, as churches, because that’s how they lived,” she said. “There’s tragedy in this, but there’s something much more powerful to it.”
Not only did First Bossier and the Simple Church embrace the idea of Katy Build, but they are ready and eager to get their own projects going.
Brad Jurkovich, Senior Pastor at First Bossier, felt inspired and encouraged by the Katy Build mission. Although he never met Emily, he feels it’s important to carry on “the testimony of a young lady who was so strong in her faith for the Lord.”
“Emily was a go getter,” Jurkovich said. “Emily would put on a t-shirt and be out there to help. She wasn’t afraid to help.”
Bryan Reed, North Community Pastor for the Simple Church, said his daughter, Molly Reed, would do the same. He recalled finding a journal that Molly was writing in before she died.
One common message she wrote about was having a servant heart and “it’s not about me” lifestyle.
“One of my favorite pictures is Molly holding a paintbrush and painting a house somewhere,” Bryan said. “She was living to serve others. She picked that up on her first mission trip in the ninth grade. This home will be part of her legacy.”
Justin Haigler, Executive Pastor of the Simple Church, said it was an honor to be asked and even considered for this project.
“As a church, we want to be known for for solving problems and helping communities locally and globally,” he said. “We challenge people to serve and take the focus off themselves through selfless acts. Knowing that we will be helping someone in our own community is a huge blessing.”
Asbury’s Katy Build I and II projects gave homes to two local veterans through a partnership with the Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana, whose goal is to build affordable new homes for low-income individuals who currently do not have adequate housing and are unable to obtain adequate financing through other conventional means.
Although they have helped construct homes in the U.S. and Mexico, Haigler said this house will mean much, much more to the Simple Church.
“This is Molly’s house,” he said.
First Bossier, too, is feeling a tremendous personal connection to this project. Dr. Jerry Pipes, Executive Pastor, said this will be an opportunity for First Bossier to put their arms, hands and feet to work.
“Not only will this honor Emily, but this home gives a veteran a second chance,” Pipes said.