By David Roach
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…]
By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC
Somewhere along the way I became a disaster chaser. That was never my intention; it just worked out that way. My background is rooted in journalism and at one point I was an overseas correspondent for the International Mission Board. I’ve chased hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. I’ve never seen the ravages of fire until last week in Sevier County. [Read more…]
The Gatlinburg fires caused widespread devastation in Sevier County with upwards toward 2,000 homes and businesses affected. Tennessee Baptist Convention President Steve Freeman offers a challenge to contribute $20 toward the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief effort.
Please visit TNDisasterRelief.org/contributions.
By Connie D. Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
GATLINBURG — On day nine following the horrific wildfires, residents are finally being allowed to visit their homes in damaged areas, reported Wes Jones, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief specialist. They have to come back out every night.
Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner said that On Thursday, Dec. 8, residents who still have homes can return and the Downtown Parkway will reopen to the general public Friday at 7 a.m.
“As more people get back to their homes and see their needs” Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief (TBDR) will be able to help, said Jones. So most Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers will be needed in the days, weeks, and months to come, he predicted. [Read more…]
Baptist and Reflector
The outpouring of support and help in the wake of the Sevier County (Tenn.) fires has been extraordinary. Many have asked how they can help, and here are some suggestions from Wes Jones, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief specialist. [Read more…]
Tennessee Baptists find ways to minister in Sevier County
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
SEVIERVILLE — Though homes, businesses, and churches in Sevier County are in ruins, residents of the area know it could have been much worse.
“Had it not rained the night of the fire (Nov. 28), Sevier County would not be here,” said Robert Nichols, director of missions for Sevier County Association of Baptists.
And God did not stop there. Additional rain on Nov. 29-30 quenched the fires that devastated the Gatlinburg area.
As of Dec.1 there were seven confirmed deaths and an estimated 45 people injured. Additionally, numerous people are still unaccounted for. The Tennessee National Guard spent all day Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 searching for victims or survivors. [Read more…]
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
GATLINBURG — Though the wildfires that swept through the community Nov. 28 destroyed or damaged three Baptist churches, leaders are not discouraged.
Of the three churches affected by the fire, Roaring Fork Baptist was completely destroyed, losing its sanctuary and all of its other buildings. Pastor Kim McCroskey noted that while the buildings are gone, the church (the people) remains.
“We’re hopeful. We will persevere and we will rise out of the ashes,” he predicted. “For whatever reason God let it happen. We’ll rebuild and will be better than ever for His glory.” [Read more…]
By Randy C. Davis
TBC Executive Director
Dear Tennessee Baptists,
You no doubt know of the devastating news this week coming out of Gatlinburg and Sevier County. As someone who called that area home for 20 years, it has been especially gutting to me to hear the reports. Jeanne and I have so many friends in that area and know personally many of the families affected. Some have lost everything.
However, I want you to know I have never been prouder to be a Tennessee Baptist. Because your churches gave through the Cooperative Program and Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, Tennessee Baptists were on the scene responding to people’s spiritual and physical needs less than 24 hours after the fires destroyed lives and property. In fact, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board missionaries were able to get to the sites of three of our Tennessee Baptists churches ministering to pastors while their destroyed buildings still smoldered. [Read more…]