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Charley doesn’t stymie event marking Welch’s anniversary

DAYTONA BEACH (BP)–In a two-day celebration made more memorable by Hurricane Charley, First Baptist Church in Daytona, Fla., marked Bobby Welch’s 30th anniversary as pastor Aug. 14-15.

Without air conditioning, microphones or any other electrical convenience, church members, extended family members and dignitaries gathered to honor the Southern Baptist Convention president and his wife, Maudellen.

Current and former deacons of the 4,200-member congregation hosted a breakfast Aug. 14, the morning after Charley blew through Daytona Beach. Welch told the Florida Baptist Witness that people arrived in blue jeans and work clothes to shovel glass from broken windows in the church buildings.

“They showed up to do what churches do,” he said.

The church lost several large windows and suffered water damage and structural damage to the porte cochere.

Welch reported “a tremendous crowd” at the Sunday morning service.

“Everyone was fanning,” he said. Without microphones, the speakers “spoke up and everyone got quiet and listened — just like they used to,” he said.

The service featured tributes by several speakers, including Jimmy Draper, Gene Mims and Jay Johnston of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Several guests and speakers missed the celebration because they were unable to fly into area airports.

Bobby and Maudellen Welch’s children, Matthew and Haylee Zivitski, and grandchildren, Madison, Zachary, Peyton and Bo, were present for the festivities.

On Aug. 16 the church — still without electricity or phone service — had work crews fanned across the city helping residents recover from the storm.

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  • Carolyn Nichols