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Still reeling, Texas churches need help

VIDOR, Texas (BP)–Dozens of Southern Baptist churches whose buildings were destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Ike in Texas will benefit from relief initiatives launched by both the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

The SBTC has created an “Adopt-A-Church” ministry to connect Ike-impacted congregations with other churches, associations or individuals who want to “adopt” a church and provide assistance. The BGCT has launched its “Church2Church” initiative, designed to help with recovery and re-entry efforts for BGCT churches and members in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

Twenty BGCT member churches had buildings totally destroyed by Hurricane Ike, and more than 100 church buildings in the hurricane impact areas were damaged to some degree. Eleven SBTC church buildings sustained major damage and are unable to hold services due to flooding or structural damage; 12 churches recorded “medium” or “minimal” damage and 33 suffered only “minor” damage.

Terry Wright, pastor of First Baptist Church of Vidor, Texas, has taken on the role of coordinating the joint response to these devastated churches, many of which had no flood insurance and may never be able to open their doors again.

“We’re feeding information from damaged Baptist churches to both Texas conventions and to NAMB,” Wright said. “We’re compiling a list of churches that have the greatest needs, because not all churches have the same level of need.”

Twelve Galveston Baptist Association churches suffered major damage. Two were totally destroyed and all that’s left of one is the slab. Wright said First Baptist Church in Galveston took on a lot of water and sewage. The church had some flood insurance but not enough, he said.

The following churches in the Galveston Baptist Association reported total loss or major damage:

— San Leon Community Church (major damage to church, fellowship hall and parsonage).

— First Baptist Church, Port Bolivar (church and parsonage a total loss)

— Crystal Beach Community Church (pastor lost his home)

— First Baptist Church, Galveston (major damage to church and pastor’s home)

— Immanuel Baptist Church, Galveston (loss of parsonage)

— Island Community Church, Galveston (total loss of church and home)

— Chinese Baptist Church, Galveston (major damage to church)

— Seaside Baptist Church, Galveston (major damage to pastor’s home)

— University Baptist Church, Galveston (major damage to pastor’s home)

— West End Baptist Church, Galveston (total loss to church and pastor’s home)

— Primera Iglesia Bautista, Hitchcock (major damage to church)

–Faith Community at Bayou Vista, Hitchcock (major damage to church’s first floor)

Wright said that in Golden Triangle Association — comprised of Jefferson, Orange and part of Chambers counties — 18 churches have been identified as having total or substantial hurricane damage.

Four more church buildings were flooded and heavily damaged in Bridge City. Wright said Bridge City’s First Baptist Church will not get an insurance settlement despite the fact the church’s property and parsonage were destroyed. The church’s pastor and staff also lost everything.

Liberty Baptist in Bridge City was destroyed by floodwaters, and its 62-year-old pastor lost all his belongings, Wright said. Five feet of floodwater inundated Second Baptist Church. Other destroyed buildings in Bridge City include Fellowship Baptist and Circle Drive Baptist churches.

“Some churches can’t meet so there are no weekly offerings. There’s no money for payroll or to pay the mortgages they’re carrying,” said Wright. “They are in dire straits.”

The following churches in the Trinity River Baptist Association also recorded substantial damage to churches, parsonages or to members’ homes: Eminence Baptist Church, Liberty, Smith Point Community Church, High Island Baptist Church, Sweet Home Baptist Church of Hankamer, and Oak Island Baptist Church.

Trinity Baptist of Port Arthur, a congregation in the Southern Baptists of Southeast Texas Association, also reported significant wind damage.

In disaster relief activity related to Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, SBC disaster relief feeding kitchens have now prepared 4.8 million hot meals for hurricane victims and volunteers.

Three feeding units — staffed by volunteers from Maryland/Delaware, Michigan and SBTC — are still cooking 30,000 meals a day on Galveston Island. North Carolina feeding units are still operating in Baytown, and feeding continues in Orange. Volunteers from Ohio and Minnesota/Wisconsin will arrive in Galveston this weekend to take over the feeding operation there.

From Aug. 30 through Oct. 14, Southern Baptist disaster relief teams in Louisiana and Texas have chalked up 40,000 volunteer days; completed 3,800 mud-out, chainsaw, roofing and repair jobs; provided 41,000 showers and 13,000 laundry loads; and recorded some 19,000 ministry contacts, including 3,100 chaplaincy contacts, 845 Gospel presentations and 171 professions of faith.
Mickey Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board. The SBTC “Adopt-A-Church” ministry website is located at www.sbtexas.com/minister_church_relations/AdoptaChurch.htm. The BGCT “Church2Church” initiative website is located at http://www.bgct.org/texasbaptists/Page.aspx?pid=4187.

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  • Mickey Noah