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Tenn. mission volunteers injured in church construction accident

SALEM, Mo. (BP)–“Run the prayerline, the trusses have fallen.” That phone call was the first indication to Sandy Bowers, secretary at New Harmony Baptist Church in Salem, Mo., of a construction accident June 15 at the church’s new building site. Seven members of First Baptist Church, Kingston, Tenn., including pastor Roy Graves, were injured “when the trusses fell like dominos on top of the new fellowship hall” for New Harmony. When the accident happened, 10 workers were on the 81-foot-long trusses. They fell nearly two stories to the ground. Seven were injured and three received only bruises. In addition to the Kingston crew, workers from New Harmony were in the area as well. The injured were part of a construction team, made up of 80 people from First Baptist Church, Kingston, and five from a church in Lusby, Md.
Those injured in addition to Graves were Jody McCloud, George Brummitt, Jack Woodall, Earl Thacker, Jerry Christian and Larry Billings. They were treated and released at a local hospital with various injuries from dislocated shoulders, sprained and broken ankles, cracked ribs to broken arms. Woodall underwent surgery at a hospital in Rolla, Mo., for a compound fracture of the right arm and flew home to Kingston June 16. Three others ( Thacker, McCloud and Brummitt) flew back to Kingston June 17 following a return trip to the Salem hospital.
“It was a miracle from God that nobody was more seriously hurt or killed,” Bowers said. “The presence of the Lord was felt after the accident at the work site. People prayed when the ambulances arrived and left with the injured.”
“A prayer vigil began after the ambulances left,” she said, noting work continued on another part of the building after the accident.
First Baptist, Kingston, has been on mission trips similar to this one for 14 years, Graves said. He noted the church gathers information about mission needs and prays about those needs. “New Harmony church’s construction was the need for this summer,” he said.
The Kingston group traveled in vans to Salem and arrived June 12. Following the accident, they continued their work through June 19.
“We’re banged up a little bit,” Graves said, noting those injured “were finding new sore spots.”
Even though the trusses and scaffolding will have to be rebuilt, the Kingston team is using the incident to motivate their workers. “We’re not dwelling on the accident, but on the providence of God,” Graves said, noting that the church looks forward each year to the missions trip and will “not let anything like this keep us from going.”
This year’s volunteer team was made up of men, women and teenagers. The five volunteers from Lusby, Md., were from a church Kingston members had helped in years past.
The work site was two miles from the previous site of New Harmony church which was destroyed by fire Jan. 14.

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  • Marcia Knox