By Lonnie Wilkey
LAFAYETTE — Though the front entrance door and windows were shot out of Calvary Baptist Church on Friday night, Jan. 4, and bullet holes remain inside the church, services went on as usual on Sunday, Jan. 6.
Attendance was slightly below the normal average attendance of between 140-150 people each week, noted Johnny Beaver, pastor of the Bledsoe Baptist Association congregation in Macon County. It is located between Lafayette and Red Boiling Springs.
Beaver acknowledged some families, especially those with small children, were afraid to attend. “We are trying to throw the brakes on the fear,” he said.
Services on Sunday proceeded without a hitch. Beaver was grateful that deputies from the Macon County Sheriff’s Department were in the parking lot when services began and remained in the area until the end of services.
In addition to damage to the church itself, the vandals also shot out the windows in the church van, a recent gift to the church from First Baptist Church, Hendersonville. The loss of the van especially hurts, Beaver said. Though an older model, it was in much better condition than Calvary’s previous van. As of Jan. 8, the church had not received an estimate of damages to the van or the church itself.
During the Sunday service, Beaver reminded members that the vandalism to the church is a “physical proof that we have a real enemy.”
Beaver stressed that “we don’t need to let the enemy (Satan) win.” The congregation appeared to be more upbeat and positive after the sermon and the shock of what happened began to wear off, he reported.
As of Jan. 8, Beaver said the sheriff’s department had informed them they had no suspects at the time.
The pastor said it will help the church’s healing process if they could learn why their church was targeted. Was it kids doing mischief on a Friday night or was it someone who “had a beef with the church?” he asked.
Regardless, the church is praying for whoever did the damage. “We already forgive them,” Beaver said. “We are praying that in the months and years to come that Calvary Baptist Church can make a difference in the community to the point that we can touch the person (who did it) with our ministry and outreach.
“I told our people on Sunday that we want to make Jesus un-ignorable in Macon County,” he continued.
A bright spot has been the overwhelming support of the community and other Baptists, Beaver said.
Macon County has an abundance of independent churches and churches of other denominations, but they have rallied around Calvary. “This has brought out community together,” he observed.
In addition, Mike Pennington, director of missions for Bledsoe Baptist Association, attended the Jan. 6 service at Calvary and has offered support from the association. First Baptist Church, Red Boiling Springs, also contacted Calvary Baptist and offered to help in any way possible, Beaver said.
He also noted that he received about six phone calls from staff members of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, including Randy C. Davis, president/executive director, and Chris Turner, director of communication, who advised him on dealing with the media.
The outpour of support has touched Beaver in a special way. “I know that we are not in this by ourselves.”
What’s more, he affirmed, “the Lord is still in control. He did not leave His throne on Friday night.” B&R — Beaver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-374-8409.