A Home for the Holidays

Habitat for Humanity crew of carpenters in front of 125th home build

Just in time for the holidays, Carpenters for Christ, a ministry of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, recently dedicated its 125th house, making it the largest contributor to Habitat for Humanity of any faith-based organization worldwide. This accomplishment took years of meetings, donations, and sweat equity, and it all started with six congregants who had a vision for Habitat for Humanity at HPUMC: Doug and Jeanne Reinelt, Philip Wise, Kent and Susan Roberts, and Stephen White.

After a year of gathering donations and organizing, the first house by Carpenters for Christ began in Fall 1996, and there was no shortage of volunteers. The first house was built in Bonton, a neighborhood in South Dallas. After Habitat for Humanity and Carpenters for Christ built multiple houses in the neighborhood, crime rates decreased, and organizations rose up to continue the positive effect the new housing has had on residents.

“It has totally turned around the neighborhood, and there’s now a Bonton farm and cafe down there that’s really involved in the community,” Jeanne Reinelt said. The whole community comes together and works toward revitalization together, she said.

habitat for humanity construction crew and family members work together to hang siding on new home Each home that Carpenters for Christ builds raises the value of property in the area and builds equity for the people who receive the home, which helps low-income families and communities develop stability. Carpenters for Christ emphasizes that they are not building homes for families; they are building with families.
“The families are partners with us, and they’re building alongside us,” said Doug Reinelt. “They are involved in a lot more than just receiving the house; they learn how to be a good neighbor, manage their finances, and have a no-interest mortgage that they pay back. The cost is often less than they were paying in rent, but they own the home.” daughter of house owner helping to paint her own house being built by habitat for humanity
After Willie Tichenor tragically passed from cancer in 2006, the Tichenor family, early supporters of the ministry, donated to build a set of houses in his honor that were known as the WillieBuild homes. The first of these homes (Carpenters for Christ house #50) was built in 2007. The group found creative ways to involve the youth of the community in the house builds and other projects in the neighborhood, often partnering with community churches that call the area home.
habitat for humanity construction crew getting to know a friend Under Senior Minister Rev. Paul Rasmussen’s leadership, the Carpenters for Christ ministry of HPUMC has continued to flourish. “It’s not just about a brick-and-mortar and a roof,” he said. “It’s about a new relationship that’s been established between our church and someone out in the community who needed some help. I think that it tangibly helps that family, and I know that it tangibly helps the heart and the spirit of people that are part of the process.”
Now, with the 125th house built and dedicated by Carpenters for Christ, a family who worked alongside the group to build their very own home will celebrate the holidays under its roof.
family working with habitat for humanity construction crew painting trim pieces of wood to complete their own house

“There was just so much love there,” Jeanne said. “The families have a unique kind of privilege to be able to see their own house being built from the ground up and get to know the people building it. Many houses are similar, but every house differs because each family is different.”

“There’s a lot of value in building servant leaders and becoming Christ-like in how we serve others,” Jeanne Reinelt said. “I think it becomes part of who you are — that you learned what it feels like to work together with other people on something bigger than yourself. You see how much can be accomplished by many people doing a little bit together.” habitat for humanity volunteer checking out cut of plywood board for new home

This message can be seen in how Carpenters for Christ went from building house #1 in 1996 to, less than 30 years later, house #125, a major milestone in the group’s history.

“It is satisfying to know this project that we started so many years ago has become one of the shining light projects that our church does,” Doug Reinelt said. “All of these families had their lives and communities affected by what we’ve done, and the future impact on their children and grandchildren is going to be incredible.”  

To Learn More About Carpenters for Christ & the Group’s Projects for Habitat for Humanity visit


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