November 30, 2016
By Carrie McGuffin
DECATUR, Ga. — The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is partnering with Tennessee CBF and requesting donations to support relief efforts responding to the series of wildfires that continue to devastate Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Wildfires in the Smoky Mountains began Nov. 28 and have killed at least three people, destroying more than 150 homes and businesses and have left the residents of Sevier County devastated as they have returned to find empty shells of structures throughout the popular resort towns.
Relief efforts are underway as CBF Disaster Response and TCBF make evaluations. Currently, access to Gatlinburg is very limited and a curfew is imposed. As the fires continue to burn, thousands of people are waiting to return to assess the damage to their homes and businesses.
A member of First Baptist Church in Gatlinburg, a CBF partner congregation, reported to TCBF that the main building of the church survived, however the youth building and a van were lost to the fire. Many congregants may be left without homes.
Ball Camp Baptist Church, a CBF partner congregation in nearby Knoxville, Tenn., is currently coordinating relief efforts and serving victims directly.
Tenessee CBF Coordinator Rick Bennett said that the request for non-perishable items has been significant and TCBF is now focusing on receiving financial contributions that will allow for flexibility of resources in the coming days.
“Given the outpouring of support to the general relief effort, our immediate goal in this response is to ensure the resiliency of FBC Gatlinburg, making sure that the church is in a position to serve and worship as soon as possible, and from there helping it minister to its community,” Bennett said.
Bennett noted that FBC Gatlinburg is just two weeks from one of its signature ministries – “Meal 4 Many” – where the congregation feeds more than 400 persons at a critical time during the holiday season. This year the church is expected to feed many more.
To provide a financial donation to support the relief efforts, please visit www.tncbf.org/gatlinburg-response. Donations will be used to aid those affected by wildfires throughout the region.
CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support.The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.