Volunteers give back to local congregation

By Megan Wehring 

KYLE — A little goes a long way. The Kyle United Methodist Church found this to be true after a small yet dedicated group of men volunteered over 400 hours for a beautification project on the church’s grounds. 

The Kyle United Methodist Church showed its appreciation for the volunteers who dedicated several hours to an outdoor beautification project by rewarding them with individual pies, a dessert that is not uncommon in the city of Kyle. From left to right:Butch LeFleur, Sean Claes, Rev. Stella Burkhalter, George Davidon and Terry Schiesler. Photo courtesy of Rev. Stella Burkhalter

As a congregation that dates back to 1880, the historic Kyle United Methodist Church relies heavily on volunteers to keep up with the care of the building and landscaping. After Winter Storm Uri swept through last February, an outdoor beautification project was just what the church needed. 

“I think the thing that was really outstanding about it was the sheer determination of this one man, Butch LeFleur [who initiated the project],” said Rev. Stella Burkhalter, senior pastor. 

LeFleur was the first volunteer to step up for the job but three other men also dedicated their time: Sean Claes, George Davidon, and Terry Schiesler. They started working last March and continued through the blazing summer heat in June and July.

Burkhalter credits the volunteers’ hard work for motivating other members of the congregation to participate in smaller projects. 

“We have a little blessing box in the back of our building where people can put food in and take food out,” Burkhalter said. “I see a lot of people that are not part of the church putting food in as well, so it’s really cool to have that in our community. We [also]added a picnic bench out there in honor of our matriarch, Sue Farrell, who passed away during the ice storm. Their dedication to make it look better fueled all of us.”

Kyle United Methodist is one of many churches recovering from the havoc of the pandemic.

“Trying to build back [due to]the pandemic, a lot of churches have been hit really hard,” Burkhalter said. “We lost rental income, we have had people cut back on giving [and]a lot of people are attending online. Kyle is growing so fast and we are trying to grow with it to make space for more people.”

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Megan Navarro (Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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