Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tents from another land come to Alamance County

By Stephanie Butzer

SNOW CAMP — Yurts have been a distinctive feature for housing in Central Asia for at least 3,000 years. Now they have come to Alamance County.

Larry George, the president of Siloam Missionary Homes in Snow Camp, has added a yurt as housing for missionary families and many people are drawn to them when they visit the grounds.

A group of volunteers help to put up Alamance County's first yurt. Photo by Scott Muthersbaugh from The Times-News.

A group of volunteers help to put up Alamance County’s first yurt. Photo by Scott Muthersbaugh from The Times-News.

The round, weatherproof houses can be as large as 50 feet in diameter. The yurt at Siloam Missionary Homes, an organization aimed at helping missionaries readjust to the fast-paced style of American living, is 24 feet in diameter and can sleep 16 people.

George said he and his wife decided to build a yurt to give back to the community that had helped them continue their service as a place for missionaries to rest and recover.

“The yurt concept screams culture,” George said. “They are a Mongolian tent and usually if I tell somebody, ‘do you know what a yurt is?’ they don’t know.”

The yurt will serve as a place for volunteers to stay while they do work for the people staying at Siloam Missionary Homes. There will eventually be four yurts and they will sit on platforms on the side of a hill, like a tree house, George said. The one currently standing is a demonstration and will be moved once a volunteer group builds platforms on the hill.

“What’s happening in America is that volunteers are not as interested in materialism as they are in sharing the experience or doing things,” George said. “At one time, people just said, ‘well, I’ll just give the money.’ Now they’re saying, ‘No, I’m going to give the money and be a part of what I give to.’”

George said he hopes the yurt will help bring different cultures together, something very important for a missionary residence. Fourteen families stay at Siloam Missionary Homes and they come from all around the world. Each family has their own fully furnished houses.

“We build the houses as the funds are donated because we’re a nonprofit and so all the houses have just been built as money came,” Joyce George, George’s wife, said.

George said a lot of missionaries return to America and are overwhelmed by the changed culture. The yurt will be a way to introduce a new culture to Alamance County. Visitors who have not traveled out of the country will be able to see a small portion of another culture.

“Some young people may never have the opportunity to travel overseas so we want to bring that here,” George said. “There’s one thing about seeing something and not just reading about it on the Internet.”

All of the materials for the yurt’s construction came from the United States, aside from the skylight, which was made in Canada. Military canvas surrounds the frame and the sturdy housing may last more than 20 years. Once it is completed, the yurt will have insulation, LED lighting, a freestanding loft and a compost heater as a toilet.

George said he thinks the yurt will give Siloam Missionary Homes an opportunity to share cultures with people both and in and out of the gated neighborhood.

“We’re kind of an oasis out here,” George said.


Church celebrates 40th anniversary with senior pastor

By Stephanie Butzer

May 19 will be a special anniversary for Beacon Baptist Church, marking its 40th year under the leadership of the founding pastor, Greg Barkman.

In 1973, Barkman was invited by a group of people in the Burlington area to begin a new church. The people were members of a nearby church and, for various reasons, did not like that pastor.

“At first I was not very inclined,” Barkman said. “I didn’t really like the idea of starting a church. I liked the idea of stepping into a church better. That was what I had in mind.”

Barkman has been the senior pastor at Beacon Baptist Church for 40 years. Photo from The Times-News.

Barkman has been the senior pastor at Beacon Baptist Church for 40 years. Photo from The Times-News.

But as Barkman got to know the people better and prayed about it, he found their goals were very compatible with his.

“We had the same desire and that was to establish a church that was committed to the Bible, that would be as Biblical as we could possibly make it,” Barkman said.

When the decision was made, the church only had 19 adults and they met in the E.M. Holt Elementary School cafeteria. Forty years later, the church had a large congregation and a three-building facility.

“I can’t believe I have been here for 40 years,” Barkman said. “I can’t believe I’m 65 years old. I don’t feel that old, but it has been so richly rewarding that it seems like maybe I’ve been here for 20 years, but it’s 40. That’s what the calendar says.”

Many pastors move around to different churches a few times during their career, but Barkman said he has never had a strong urge to leave the church, even though he has had offers.

Robert LaTour, the minister of families at Beacon, became a member in 1978 and joined the pastoral staff in 2006. He and his wife first chose to join the church because they were attracted to the “serious-mindedness of the preaching of the Word” at Beacon.

Since he became a leader at the church, LaTour said he has seen how dedicated Barkman is to his study. Barkman spends hours each morning studying the books in the Bible and dedicates 12 to 15 hours preparing for each sermon.

“Even though there is a time expense, if you love doing something, you bring that love to it,” LaTour said. “His respect for the position is a humbling thing, it’s not a prideful thing.”

easelly_visualIn the afternoons, Barkman mainly prepares for future sermons and records his sermon on a radio show so people far away can listen. You can hear the sermons at the church’s web site,

One man who lived in High Point listened to Barkman’s broadcast regularly. He drove to the church one Sunday and told Barkman he had become a Christian through his radio broadcast.

“How rewarding is that?” Barkman said. “To have someone show up and say, ‘I’ve listened to your radio broadcast and I’ve become a follower of Jesus Christ as a result of listening to it.’”

His congregation appreciates all the years Barkman has led them and, as a thank you gift, they put together enough money to send him and his wife to Israel.

“I had never been to Israel before and that was wonderful to see Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and to see the Sea of Galilee and so many things. I read about them all my life and studied them in textbooks but to actually be there – that was a wonderful thing. I was very grateful for that.”

In all of sermons, both in the church auditorium and through the radio, Barkman aims to take a text of scripture, explain what it means and apply it to daily life.

“That’s what I do,” Barkman said. “That’s what I have been doing for 40 years.”

Five boys soar above and beyond with Eagle Scout projects

By Stephanie Butzer

Thanks to five boys in Boy Scout Troop 4051, Alamance County has a new picnic area, gazebo, pergola, faux bridge and educational toys for blind children.

These five boys received their Eagle SCout awards at the same ceremony. Scouts usually receive this honor individually. Photo submitted to the Times-News.

These five boys received their Eagle SCout awards at the same ceremony. Scouts usually receive this honor individually. Photo submitted to the Times-News.

Collin Scott, Jacob Bare, Brian Gold, Owen Gold and Joshua Parrish recently received their Eagle Scout badges and, in an unusual ceremony, all were awarded the rank at the same ceremony.

It took a long time for each to reach this achievement. Only 7 percent of boys who participate in Scouting earn the rank.

Scott said he remembers when he was younger and how much fun he had when he was a Cub Scout. That enthusiasm continued, and as he and the other boys rose in the ranks, they became more confident in their leadership.

“It helps you to achieve the rank of becoming an Eagle: all the different steps, the different people you meet and the new friends that you make,” Scott said.

Bare also recalls the first few times he spent time with the troop.

“Me and (Scott) were interested in Troop 4051 before we even joined because we went rock-climbing with these guys as Cub Scouts,” Bare said. “Of the nine that joined with us, we were the first two (to join the troop).”

The process to become an Eagle Scout was long and the boys said there was a lot of paperwork and interviews involved. Scouts must climb through the lower ranks, earn a set number of merit badges and plan and complete a service project.

Scott and Bare described the process as stressful, but well worth the time. There was also the waiting period to see if they had been accepted to continue the project from the Council Service Center and the Board of Review.

“My dad talked to his friends and said, ‘Right now Jacob is anxiously biting his fingernails just waiting to hear the answer,’” Bare said.

Once their individual applications were accepted, they began work on the projects. Parrish, who built a faux bridge in the Shallow Ford National Area, said one of the hardest parts was gathering people to work on the bridge.

“The most challenging part was probably getting everybody to help because it was in the middle of winter and people were busy,” he said.

With the labor of the project behind them, the boys have not forgotten how the impact will help them succeed in the future. Brian Gold said this achievement would be a big boost for his resume for college or for opportunities after his college graduation. The biggest reward for Owen Gold was the public recognition and being able to call himself an Eagle Scout, he said.

“It’s the one time you get to be cocky about yourself – when you get your Eagle,” Bare said.

Scott, 16, is a student at Western Alamance High School. He is the son Alan and Shannon Scott.

Bare, 16, is also a student at Western. He is the son of Samantha and Smokey Bare

Brian Gold, 17, and Owen Gold, 15, are both home-schooled. They are the sons of Tanya and Millard Gold.

Parrish, 15, also attends Western. He is the son Ron and Julie Parrish.