Churches helping victims of house fire

LEWISTOWN – A pair of local churches are working together to help a family who lost everything they owned in a house fire in January.

The Lauver family – Lynn Taylor, her sons Steve and Matthew Lauver, and her grandson, Cole Lauver – lost their Walnut Street home on Jan. 9 when it was destroyed by an electrical fire. Taylor said it was her faith in God that got her through the tragedy of losing everything she owned.

“Through (the fire) even though I was upset, there was still a calm within me, that I knew God was in control and I was not to worry,” she said.

The fire happened on a Thursday and when that Sunday rolled around, Taylor still wanted to go to her church, Grace Covenant Church, as she did every Sunday before the fire. The problem was, she didn’t have proper clothes to wear.

“Sunday (the family) was at the Quality Inn and I got up to go to church and I was in my pajamas. I ran over to Kmart to buy clothes so I could go to church. I ended up changing in the bathroom,” she said.

Walnut Street United Methodist Church is located just a block away from the Lauver home and it’s where Barb Smith and Karen Cramer attend church. Once they found out about the fire, they made efforts to contact the Lauver family, and finally got in touch with Taylor.

“They came to Mattress Warehouse (where Taylor works) to talk to me. They were so touched by what I was sharing with them about my faith in God. They wanted to do something. They felt led to do something, so they contacted my church and got the ball rolling,” Taylor said.

Taylor has been a member of Grace Covenant Church for 14 years, and together with Walnut Street United Methodist Church, they started a fundraiser – “Faith Thru Fire” – to help the family.

First, the two churches started raising funds for the family and reaching out to other churches in the area. So far they have collected $1,115. Taylor is just grateful for the support.

“I am so thankful and so blessed that they are doing this. I really am. You just can’t imagine what you lose in a fire,” she said.

Grace Covenant Church is hosting an open house from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday where people can come and drop off donations for the family. Taylor also entered needs of members of the family into registries at Bon-Ton, Target and Walmart.

Cyndi Neff, wife of Grace Covenant pastor Ron Neff, said doing an open house was more special than simply collecting money.

“(Taylor) is a member of our church and we wanted to do something that would be more meaningful than just raising money. Having this benefit shower is something where people can bring items for her household which she specifically needs,” she said.

Taylor also liked the idea of an open house so she can personally meet and thank people, people that have become her friends through the experience.

“I have met a lot of caring and giving people throughout this. I’ve made new friends and that, I am very thankful for,” she said.