WMU GIVES SECOND GRANT TO FIRE RELIEF

Baptist Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — As the Smoky Mountain resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge continue to recover from last year’s devastating wildfires, a second $5,000 HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) Fund grant from the national Womans Missionary Union and the WMU Foundation will assist workers struggling due to the decline in tourism. [Read more…]

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DR HELPS 253 FAMILIES AFTER FIRES

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Disaster relief volunteers of Knox County Association of Baptists work on some trees at the site of a burned home in Gatlinburg.

GATLINBURG — Disaster relief fire response “is so different … . We can’t go door to door saying, ‘Hey, we’re here for you,’ because there are no doors,” explained Kaye Thomas of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, referring to the hundreds of homes destroyed here by fires three months ago.

“But our yellow hats and blue shirts out on the mountains have really impressed people,” she added.

The Nov. 28 fires in Sevier County took 14 lives, left 160 people injured, and destroyed or damaged 2,800 structures including three Tennessee Baptist churches. [Read more…]

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OVERCOMING OBSTACLES TO LEARN GOD’S WORD

No building and a bathroom practice site doesn’t deter Bible drillers

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

It’s not the perfect practice site for a Bible drill, but this bathroom at Camp Smoky is the only place these Bible drillers from Roaring Fork Baptist Church, Gatlinburg, have to practice after their church was destroyed by fire last November. From left are Kylie Brower, Chloe Devine, Sierra Devine, James Cooper, Jordan Deaver, Keegan Ward, Morgan Wallace, Brantley Cooper, Cinnamon Grey, Barret Crawley, and Alex Willis.

It’s not the perfect practice site for a Bible drill, but this bathroom at Camp Smoky is the only place these Bible drillers from Roaring Fork Baptist Church, Gatlinburg, have to practice after their church was destroyed by fire last November. From left are Kylie Brower, Chloe Devine, Sierra Devine, James Cooper, Jordan Deaver, Keegan Ward, Morgan Wallace, Brantley Cooper, Cinnamon Grey, Barret Crawley, and Alex Willis.

GATLINBURG — The youth of Roaring Fork Baptist Church here are not unlike countless other teenagers across Tennessee who are participating in Youth Bible Drill, preparing for associational and state competitions later this spring.

What sets the Roaring Fork youth apart from other groups is where they practice — a bathroom at Camp Smoky, owned and operated by the Sevier County Association of Baptists.

Roaring Fork Baptist Church was destroyed in November by the fires that swept through Gatlinburg and Sevier County. The church has been meeting since the fire at Camp Smoky where space is limited. [Read more…]

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STILL ANSWERING THE CALL IN TIME OF NEED

By Randy C. Davis
TBMB Executive Director

Randy C. Davis

Randy C. Davis

The news media may have moved on, and that’s okay. As we say, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers get there when the disaster hits and stay long after the media has left.

And that’s definitely the case in Sevier County where November’s wildfires devastated countless homes, businesses, and woodlands. Tennessee Baptists have been well represented as hundreds of committed volunteers have served — and continue to serve — thousands in their time of need.  [Read more…]

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NAME CHANGE, FIRES TOP STORIES IN 2016

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

View from back of Roaring Fork Baptist Church in Gatlinburg. The church and vehicle were destroyed by wildfires which swept through Sevier County on Nov. 28.

View from back of Roaring Fork Baptist Church in Gatlinburg. The church and vehicle were destroyed by wildfires which swept through Sevier County on Nov. 28.

BRENTWOOD — There was no shortage of news in the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 2016.

The story that garnered the most national attention occurred Nov. 28 when fires swept across Sevier County, primarily in Gatlinburg, leaving 14 people dead, injuring at least 160 others, and damaging or destroying 2,400 structures including three Tennessee Baptist churches in Gatlinburg — Roaring Fork Baptist Church, Banner Baptist Church, and First Baptist Church.

After the fires, hundreds of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief (TBDR) volunteers provided assistance. Volunteers have done everything from providing hot meals and sack lunches to clearing charred trees off property and some demolition to sifting through ashes and debris in hopes of finding a family heirloom or simply an item with only sentimental value. [Read more…]

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DR VOLUNTEERS SHOW CHRIST’S LOVE

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

161230-gatlinburg-drGATLINBURG — One month after a devastating fire swept through the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg residents are still picking up the pieces, literally.

Hundreds of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers have provided assistance since relief efforts began. Volunteers have done everything from providing hot meals and sack lunches to clearing charred trees off property and some demolition to sifting through ashes and debris in hopes of finding a family heirloom or simply an item with only sentimental value. [Read more…]

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THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOWING UP

By Randy C. Davis
TBC Executive Director

Randy C. Davis

Randy C. Davis

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Churches charred. Businesses gone. Homes nothing but ash heaps and rubble. Some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen left a blackened wasteland.

A few hours of raging fire forever changed the lives of thousands.

One of those homes on top of one of those mountains belonged to the late Dr. Clyde Martin and his precious widow, Ruth. The families of their son, Mark, and their daughter, Debbie, also had homes there. All three houses and all the cars were destroyed. The Martin family lost everything and very nearly lost their lives. Downed trees blocked their driveway but they crawled into a truck with a nearby family and raced down the mountain to safety. My wife, Jeanne, and I sat and listened as they told how God orchestrated a way out of the inferno. We wept; we prayed.  [Read more…]

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TENNESSEE BAPTIST ASSISTANCE CONTINUES

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

TBC President Steve Freeman surveys the damage to property immediately behind Roaring Fork Baptist Church. Several homes near the church were destroyed, four of which belonged to church members. Freeman has called on Tennessee Baptists to give $20 for tragedy to help in the disaster relief effort. Contributions can be made at TNDisasterRelief.org/contributions.

TBC President Steve Freeman surveys the damage to property immediately behind Roaring Fork Baptist Church. Several homes near the church were destroyed, four of which belonged to church members. Freeman has called on Tennessee Baptists to give $20 for tragedy to help in the disaster relief effort. Contributions can be made at TNDisasterRelief.org/contributions. -Photos by Chris Turner

GATLINBURG — Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBMB) leaders are grateful for the quick response, both financially and with physical assistance, following the wildfires which struck the Smoky Mountains in late November.

What’s more, help will continue in the months to come, leaders agreed.

“I am thankful for the quick response of our disaster relief volunteers at the very start of this tragedy in Sevier County to meet the immediate needs of first responders and evacuees,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB. [Read more…]

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MORE SCENES FROM THE GATLINBURG AREA

Photo gallery.

  • A Weakley Country Disaster Relief team member helps a National Guardsman load supplies for distribution. Ton of supplies are being delivered then divided for delivery to areas around Gatlinburg. With so many houses destroyed, the greatest need currently is financial and money contributed through Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief is used to supply specific needs individuals have in their recovery effort.
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GATLINBURG FIRE SUSPECTS ELICIT SYMPATHY

By David Roach
Baptist Press

Banner Baptist Church in Gatlinburg, Tenn., lost its fellowship hall to fire and sustained damage to another small building.

Banner Baptist Church in Gatlinburg, Tenn., lost its fellowship hall to fire and sustained damage to another small building.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (BP) — The arrests of two teenagers in connection with deadly wildfires in and around Gatlinburg, Tenn., have provoked expressions of sadness from three local Southern Baptist congregations that lost buildings in the blaze.

The three Gatlinburg churches — Roaring Fork Baptist Church, First Baptist Church and Banner Baptist Church — also report God’s continued work in their midst, including at least four first-time professions of faith in Christ over the past two weeks.

Authorities announced the arrests Dec. 7, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The teens, whose names and genders have not been released, have been charged with aggravated arson in connection with a fire that started Nov. 23, killing at least 14 people and destroying more than 2,400 homes and businesses. [Read more…]

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