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SBC DIGEST: Charleston church burns; North Carolina Baptists honor woman’s 50 years of service

Charleston church loses sanctuary in fire

By Brandon Porter

CHARLESTON, S.C. (BP) – Members of Fort Johnson Baptist Church will face a new challenge as they recover from a fire that likely destroyed the church’s sanctuary on Thursday (Sept. 9). Pastor Marty Middleton speculated to WCBD-TV a lightning strike sparked the fire late Wednesday night that smoldered overnight and started the blaze.

Photo from Facebook

Middleton said he was encouraged by the large number of community members, pastors and other churches who reached out to him as the building burned.

“This is not the end,” he said. “We will rebuild this place. Our people will continue to serve James Island in a way that makes an impact.”

In a Facebook video, Middleton says the church plans to meet in the church’s gym on Sunday morning.

“The church is not a building, as you can see, that can be destroyed,” he said. “The church is the people who love one another, care for one another and can worship together. We worship a great God who can do some great things even through this disaster.”

According to the church’s Facebook page, no one was injured in the fire. Emergency responders were on the scene before the church’s preschool opened.

The church’s sanctuary appears to be a complete loss.

Tharrington honored for 50 years with North Carolina Baptists on Mission

By Chad Austin/BSCNC

CARY, N.C. (BP) – Lynn Tharrington had two dreams as a little girl – to work in an office and serve as a missionary. Never in her wildest imagination did Tharrington think she would get to do both for 50 years while serving North Carolina Baptists in the same role for the entirety of her working life.

Lynn Tharrington with Baptists on Mission executive director Richard Brunson at Tharrington’s retirement celebration.

Tharrington retired as N.C. Baptists on Mission’s executive assistant Sept. 1 – 50 years to the day after she first joined the staff of what was then known as the Brotherhood Department. During her half century of service, Tharrington watched the organization grow from a staff of five with a handful of missions partnerships in 1971 to a team of more than 20 people that coordinates 19 different ministries and dozens of missions partnerships around the world.

“For 50 years, I’ve been blessed to play office and do what I knew God was calling me to do,” Tharrington said during a surprise retirement celebration in her honor that was part of a recent Baptists on Mission board of directors meeting at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro. “As I like to say, I was present for the birth of what we know today as Baptists on Mission.”

Legacy of service

During the retirement ceremony, current and former coworkers, missions volunteers, friends and family praised Tharrington as a godly woman with a servant’s heart. Since starting her career as an 18-year-old fresh out of business college, Tharrington has served as executive assistant to three different executive directors of Baptists on Mission.

A major part of her role involved responding to questions and inquiries that came in from ministry volunteers, missionaries and others looking to serve. For Tharrington, it wasn’t just a job. It was a ministry.

Current Baptists on Mission Executive Director Richard Brunson recalled how Tharrington often would come into a staff meeting to share a testimony or request prayer for someone she’d just spoken with on the phone.

“How many of those calls or emails resulted in people going on a life-changing mission trip, resulted in someone coming to know Christ during a mission trip or someone answering a call to ministry?” Brunson said. “God has used Lynn and her call to missions to impact thousands of people across our state and around the world. How do you thank somebody for that?”

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