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FBI reports no anthrax bacteria found in letter at SBC Building

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–According to FBI lab results, anthrax was not found in a letter claiming to carry the deadly bacteria opened at the Southern Baptist Convention Building in Nashville, Tenn., March 5.
Officials with Nashville’s Metro Health Department reported the results March 19 to SBC Executive Committee officials.
“Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief,” health department spokesman Brian Todd told The Tennessean daily newspaper. “It is something that is deadly serious, and we will respond [to any anthrax threat] quickly and effectively to make sure that everyone is safe.”
Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, said the SBC agency’s staff “emerged from the experience with a deeper awareness that each day we live is a gift from God.”
“I am grateful to the Lord for the unshakable faith of our staff,” Chapman said. “We are all thankful for the many prayers of those who expressed concern over the last two weeks.”
The letter, postmarked on the West Coast, was opened in one of the SBC Executive Committee offices on the building’s seventh floor. On the scene more than four hours were officials from the FBI, Metro Health Department, Metro Police Department, Nashville Fire Department and Metro Office of Emergency Management.
Four Executive Committee staff members, including Jack Wilkerson, vice president for business and finance, and a fire department captain underwent a decontamination wash and were given antibiotics. The SBC Building was closed March 8, and the reported anthrax incubation period of one to six days passed without any report of illness. SBC officials initially were told March 5 FBI lab results would be available during the following week.
Wilkerson said “detailed training has been given to all personnel in the SBC Building who handle mail, applying the lessons we learned from this incident.”
The SBC Building also houses the convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Seminary Extension, Historical Library and Archives and Southern Baptist Foundation.