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Texans working to ‘adopt’ Baptists hit by N.D. flood

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (BP)–With about 75 families in two Southern Baptist churches routed from their Grand Forks, N.D., homes by the Red River in April, Texas Baptist churches are being urged to “adopt” those families, providing new clothing and linens and anything else they may need.
Doyle Holmes, retired director of missions of the Lubbock Baptist Association, is acting as a clearinghouse to match Texas churches with the North Dakota Baptist families. Churches can contact him at (806) 741-0535, by fax at (806) 741-0609 or by e-mail at [email protected]
However, while the aid will be welcomed when the time is right, Dakota Southern Baptist Fellowship Executive Director Dewey Hickey said it may be quite a while before most of the families can be located and their needs assessed.
The local utility company has removed electric meters from homes in the flood area, and electricity will not be restored until the houses are rewired and inspected, which could take weeks or months, Hickey said.
In the meantime, he said, many of the families have dispersed to live with friends or relatives.
One pastor reported that out of the 37 families in his church before the flood, he has been able to find only seven of them, Hickey said.
Cornerstone Baptist Church, a relatively new congregation in a two-year-old building, was particularly hard hit, although it was out of the floodwater, Hickey said.
Because of a blizzard, power outage and then the flood that kept church members away, it held services only one week in April, and now pastor Doug Lee can find only a few of his congregation of 60 people. “The church has a $200,000 debt and a $2,100 monthly commitment to its pastor and recently has had to pay for new paving and sewer lines the city blessed them with,” Hickey said. “And now the pastor can’t find his members.”
Florida Baptists are helping, however. The Florida convention has a partnership missions commitment with the Dakota fellowship and has agreed to make six months of building payments. The Southern Baptist Home Mission Board will give Lee a grant equal to three months’ salary to free him to do ministry and rebuild his scattered congregation.
Another Southern Baptist church in Grand Forks, Faith Community, whose pastor is a Texan, Jim Cargile, has water in its basement. Cargile and his family were flooded out of their home and have been staying with his mother in Abilene, though they were expected to return to Grand Forks in mid-May.
“Their home will have to be rewired, so they will have to stay with friends,” Hickey said.
The Dakota Baptist leader said they plan to clean out the Faith Community Church and use it for volunteer housing.
A third Baptist congregation, House of Prayer Baptist Church, reported flooding of just one young man’s residence among its 20 members. The predominantly African American church had been meeting in Grand Forks’ Civic Center but now is meeting in the home of an assistant pastor, said Michelle Passmore, wife of House of Prayer pastor Henry Passmore.
Only 5 percent of the 50,000 people in the city have been able to return to their homes, Hickey said. Officials anticipate it will be four to six months before the city’s water is drinkable, he said.
During a month of disaster relief in the Grand Forks area, Baptist disaster relief units from Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio have prepared more than 565,000 meals. They have been on station since disastrous flooding struck the Red River Valley, forcing thousands from their homes and leaving devastation in its wake.
“Mud-out” crews are now needed to help residents salvage whatever is possible from their homes. Volunteers — who need to be able to pay their own expenses — may call their respective state Brotherhood offices for further information.
“Some people are wanting to go in there and charge for their services, but we want to have folks who will go in and make some inroads by helping the people,” said John LaNoue of Texas Baptist Men.

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  • Toby Druin