ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has established a fund to help African-American churches that have been damaged or destroyed by fire in recent weeks.
Seven churches have been involved in the two weeks since a white supremacist murdered nine church members in Charleston, S.C. At least three of the fires have been determined to be arson. None as of yet have been ruled a hate crime, but investigations continue.
“Southern Baptists should be the first to condemn acts of hatred toward African-Americans,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “Regardless of the causes of these fires, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to come alongside and offer whatever assistance we can.”
Those wishing to give can visit namb.net/givenow or call toll-free 866-407-6262. Checks should be made out to NAMB with “Church Fire Fund” on the memo line and mailed to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta GA 30368-6543. One hundred percent of donations will go to help churches—regardless of denomination—impacted by the fires.
NAMB is starting the fund with $50,000 that will immediately be available to the churches in need of assistance.
“It has been heart breaking to hear of these fires,” Ezell said. “We wanted to provide an easy, centralized way to help.”
Ezell said the fund is an example of the kind of activity NAMB will be undertaking under its new “Send Relief” efforts. In addition to traditional disaster relief activities, Send Relief will include meeting needs surrounding issues such as hunger, human trafficking, International Learning Centers in Send Cities, medical and dental needs, military and first-responder family support and national construction projects among others.
Fred Luter, Senior Pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and new National Mobilizer for NAMB, said while at the moment African-American churches are in need, “what is happening today could happen to any of our churches in any of our states.
“We are living in a crazy day and time when there is no respect for God, no respect for the Bible or for houses of God. So these kinds of things could happen anywhere,” Luter said. “I would encourage all Southern Baptists around the nation to pray for those churches in South Carolina and elsewhere that have been impacted.”
Luter appealed to Southern Baptist pastors to lead their churches in a response.
“I would encourage pastors to put themselves in the place of these pastors whose buildings are destroyed,” Luter said. “Pray for them, yes, but do all you can to contribute to this fund so we can help our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Mike Ebert writes for the North American Mission Board.
Giving to the Church Fire Fund
- Give online at namb.net/givenow, use drop-down menu to select fund
- Donate by phone at 866-407-6262
- Make checks payable to NAMB with “Church Fire Fund” on the memo line. Mail to North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta GA 30368-6543