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1/14/2004 Richland woman makes sure her church points to heavens

Jimma Traweek, center, collected and saved money to pay for a new steeple at Richland Baptist Church. At left is deacon Charlie Rash and at right is RBC pastor Bill Honea. Courtesy Photo

By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun Staff

The First Baptist Church of Richland received the gift of a new steeple on New Year's Eve.

Jimma Traweek, who has been a member of the church most of her 87 years, had a dream to restore a steeple to the church she loves.

"I was born in Richland, and started at the church as a baby," Traweek said. "I joined at age 12. It had a steeple in the beginning. It was a little country church with a loft at the back, kind of rounded with windows."

The church was built in 1910. Traweek remembered the steeple being removed because it was making the roof leak.

"I thought it looked awful without the steeple," Traweek said.

Traweek has taught Sunday School, Girls in Action and led the singing over the years.

"I do what nobody else wants to do," she said. "I've been leading the singing since 1986."

Traweek had two sons and two daughters, and her house was the hub for children and youth activities from the church.

"We had weenie roasts every Saturday night in the winter and summer in my back yard," she said. "They called themselves 'the crew' and it included the GA's and other kids from the town."

The original steeple was taken down 40 to 50 years ago. When Traweek's oldest daughter passed away in 1996, Miss Jimma, as she is affectionately called, asked that instead of flowers, people just make donations to a steeple fund. Then when her husband passed away, she repeated the request.

"Friends and family heard about it from as far away as California," she said. "We got more than enough to put the steeple up, so we will be able to do more on the church."

Traweek would like to use the extra funds to add a patio to the back of the church, and paint the building.

On New Year's Eve, Miss Jimma, Charlie Rash -- who takes care of the church -- and Bro. Bill Honea -- church pastor the last two years -- watched as the crew of Tree Top Construction returned a steeple to the top of the church.

"I was watching her as the tears were streaming down her face," Honea said. "It is just such a joy to watch someone who loves the Lord that much. She knows the history of the church, and the heartaches."

Miss Jimma is just happy to see the steeple back up.

"The church is my life," she said. " I won't leave Richland to live with my kids because I won't leave my church."

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