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Oldest church in Lehigh needs repair, donations

March 28, 2018
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The oldest and first church to open its doors in Lehigh Acres needs the community's help to rebuild after suffering extensive roof damaged during hurricane Irma. Two of the First Community Congregation's buildings need roof repairs as does the church's sign.

"This church is an integral part of the community. We help poor families with food. We have volunteers - people- but not enough money for repairs," said church member Beverly Roethlein.

In 1956, the wood-framed church was built by volunteers and served as an incubator for most of the dominations now found in the area.

"Lehigh had a total population of 400 people when this church was built. There were hardly any roads at that time, so they had to pave a road just to get to the church," Roethlein said.

The name "community" was part of the church's name because the original members all came from different faiths.

"The word 'congregation' was chosen to praise God," said Roethlein.

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First Community Congregation is a very active church within the community and provides one of the largest food pantry services in Lee County.

"Our pantry is open Tuesday through Saturday, and we see typically see over 100 people a day," said Roethlein.

The church also has a soup kitchen on Tuesday's and Friday's that serves both the needy and elderly.

Throughout the month, the church is raising funds to cover the expenses needed to repair the roofs and sign. One of their largest events will be a gift-basket raffle held on April 6.

"There will be 100 themed gift baskets and gift certificates for men, women and children. The children will have their own table to choose from. This is a family event, so there is something for everyone," explained Roethlein.

On April 6, those interested can arrive 6 .p.m. to browse and put their tickets in for the raffle. They will be serving an assortment of food including hot dogs, BBQ, and walking tacos. The raffle drawing starts at 7 p.m. Raffle tickets cost $5 per ticket, for 26 chances to win. Extra tickets are also available.

"The raffle is being held inside our Social Hall. We have some great themed gift baskets for the raffle," said Roethlein.

Those interested in purchasing raffle tickets or for more information about how to donate, call either Reverent Debra Frysinger at 239-369-1615 or Beverly Roethlein at 484-294-8070. Tickets are also available at the door.



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