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Suspicious letter prompts treatment of 4 SBC employees as precaution

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A suspicious letter opened March 5 at the Southern Baptist Convention Building in Nashville, Tenn., resulted in precautionary decontamination treatment of four Executive Committee staff members and one fire department captain.
Bill Merrell, vice president of convention relations for the Executive Committee, said local authorities were contacted and precautions they recommended were taken, including limiting access to the building.
Local media described the letter as an “anthrax scare.”
Merrell voiced appreciation for the work of officers who arrived at the scene representing the Metro Police Department, Metro Health Department, Nashville Fire Department, Metro Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The officers were at the scene for more than four hours.
The suspicious envelope did not appear to contain any toxic contents, Merrell said of the authorities’ initial assessment. But he said tests are being done to eliminate any doubt, and the findings will be available the week of March 8.
Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman said the SBC Building will be closed Monday, March 8.
“There was a sense the Lord was here, guiding us through the day and giving us strength,” Chapman said of the calm among Executive Committee staff members on the building’s seventh floor who were confined for several hours to the floor.
Emergency workers led a debriefing session with Executive Committee staff, and Chapman led in a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s grace during the incident and the local officials’ assistance.
After a phone conversation earlier in the afternoon between Chapman and James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources across the street, sandwiches and other food items were delivered from LifeWay’s cafeteria for the confined Executive Committee staff members and the assisting emergency workers.