AND IT ALL HAPPENS IN A BREATH

By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBC

fire-forestOne moment it was a blustery late November evening secluded in the Smoky Mountains; the next a fiery hell. And it all changed in the time it takes to draw a breath.

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…]

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‘IT’S GOING TO BE A LONG HAUL HERE’ IN GATLINBURG

By Connie D. Bushey
News 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. 18.

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.

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…]

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FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN

Photo gallery.

-Photos by Chris Turner

  • 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.
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GATLINBURG FIRES CREATE CHALLENGES

Tennessee Baptists find ways to minister in Sevier County

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Kim McCroskey, right, pastor of Roaring Forks Baptist Church, describes the destruction to Joe Sorah, left, of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board staff. In the background is Wes Turner, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief specialist.

Kim McCroskey, right, pastor of Roaring Forks Baptist Church, describes the destruction to Joe Sorah, left, of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board staff. In the background is Wes jones, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief specialist.

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…]

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SEVIER COUNTY CHURCHES WILL REBOUND

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

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More than 14,000 people were evacuated from Gatlinburg, when a series of wildfires threatened buildings across the area. -Screen capture from Twitter

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…]

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WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE GATLINBURG FIRES

By Randy C. Davis
TBC Executive Director

Randy C. Davis

Randy C. Davis

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…]

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FIRES DESTROY GATLINBURG CHURCH, PARTS OF TWO OTHERS

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Roaring Fork Baptist Church in Gatlinburg stands in ruins Nov. 29 following fires that swept across the Smoky Mountains.

Roaring Fork Baptist Church in Gatlinburg stands in ruins Nov. 29 following fires that swept across the Smoky Mountains.

GATLINBURG — The sanctuary and Family Life Center of Roaring Fork Baptist Church in Gatlinburg burned down Nov. 28.

In addition, a building at First Baptist Church, Gatlinburg, and the fellowship hall of Banner Baptist Church, all in Gatlinburg, were destroyed

The fires which have been burning for about 17 days in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina began their destruction Nov. 28 when a storm front came through with winds 40-60 mph, according to Wes Jones, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief specialist and Robert Nichols, director of missions, Sevier County Baptist Association, based in Sevierville. At one time about 160 fires were identified, added Jones. [Read more…]

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