Restoring History in Williford

May 24, 2006 -- Posted at 2:42 p.m. CDT

WILLIFORD, AR -- Teenagers in Region 8 are helping to restore history in their small town.

When they began, the Williford Methodist Church was on its last leg, and now, with loving care, the historical building is closer to being saved.

The church has seen life, death, joy and tears. It has stood tall through war, depression, and Mother Nature.

"This building is an icon in this community. It's survived two floods, and now, with the consolidation, we know we're going to be losing our school in a couple years. Now it means so much more," said Debra Smith, Gifted and Talented Teacher at Williford High School.

Bringing this old church closer to its original glory is the goal of the gifted and talented students at Williford High School.

"It was a historical landmark and this community doesn't have much left, so we wanted to bring some of it back," said student Erica Honey.

"Everyone that used to go to this church is coming back and helping us a lot," said student Donia Tarpley.

This project means a lot to the students taking part in it, but for two of the original members, this is their final act here. The two graduated from Williford High School and have passed the reigns on to a new group of students.

"The students that are coming up, they will feel a part of it because this church is a part of their history and their heritage, because most of them have lived here all their life," said Smith.

Over the past three years the group has received donations and a grant to help restore the church. At this point they're about half-way finished.

"When we saw it completely painted and the windows in and the doors in, I think we just stood there in awe. We almost wept because it was so beautiful," said Smith.

Now, work needs to be completed inside.

When the building is finished it won't be used for church services, but rather for weddings, funerals and similar functions.

But even more, this church will be a shining example of hope for the future in the town of Williford.