As the story goes, a young girl named Hattie stood sobbing outside the doors of a Philadelphia church school more than a century ago, having been turned away due to a lack of space. Upon noticing the child, the church's pastor approached and asked what the problem was.
"They cannot let me into Sunday School," Hattie said. "There is no room."
"I will take you in," the kind pastor said and ushered her into the school, telling her that someday the church will be large enough "for all that should come."
Unfortunately, just a few short weeks later, the young girl contracted diphtheria and died. At the funeral, Hattie's father approached the pastor and told him his daughter had begun saving for a building-fund, running errands for pennies she saved in a little bank.
"She would want you to have this," he said, and with an outstretched hand gave 57 cents to the pastor.
The pastor later approached his deacons with the 57 cents. While the group had no short term plan of a new building, the story inspired them and the 57 cents became the first gift toward a fundraising campaign for a new, larger church.
When a suitable building parcel was identified, the pastor approached the owner with the little girl's story.
"I talked the matter over with the owner of the property and told him of the beginning of the fund, and the story of the little girl," the pastor said.
While the man was not of the church, or even a church goer for that matter, he was so deeply moved by the story that he agreed to take the 57 cents donated by the little girl as the first down payment. A benefactor later paid off the entire amount, leaving the church with no mortgage.