Disaster funds to help start church
March 8 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Disaster funds to help start church | Friday, March 8, 2002

Friday, March 8, 2002

Disaster funds to help start church

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Baptist groups in New York plan to use more than $500,000 donated for disaster relief to start a church near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers.

A plan adopted by NAMB trustees, the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association and the Baptist Convention of New York calls for 15 percent of more than $3.4 million donated for disaster relief following the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks to be used to start the church.

Martin King, a NAMB spokesman, said the decision was made after NAMB talked with New York Baptist officials about what was needed in the area.

"What we know is the people in New York said 'What we need is a long-term presence,'" King said. "That comes primarily from churches."

King said a plan has not been developed for how the money will be spent. He said it could be used to start more than one church and could be used over several years.

King said the owners of an apartment complex that was cleaned by Baptist volunteers have offered to let Southern Baptists use an apartment there. That apartment might be used for a Bible study to help start the church, he said.

Money collected for disaster relief following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be distributed according to an allocation plan called "Enduring Hope: Disbursing Disaster Relief Donations with Integrity and Impact," according to Baptist Press (BP). The plan calls for 59 percent of the money to go to "victim benevolence and counseling ministry" and 41 percent to be used for the long-term "ongoing response ministry," a BP story said.

The funds for victims include 40 percent for "financial assistance through Southern Baptist churches and associations" in New York, Boston and Washington D.C., as well as to those in New York who lost their jobs because of the disaster. Twelve percent will fund a "resident chaplain" in New York and seven percent will assist state and local partners in funding traditional Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts of feeding, childcare, cleanup of apartments and similar ministries.

The ongoing response ministry funds include 26 percent for securing a "strategically located center" to house volunteers working in the area in coming years. The other 15 percent will be used for church starting.

A task force that has been studying the issue since late September recommended the plan. The document has been submitted to state conventions as a possible model for disbursement of their own relief funds set up in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Richard Brunson, director of N.C. Baptist Men, said the Baptist State Convention has never used disaster relief money for church starting efforts.

"But I don't want to say we never would," he said.

Brunson said the church would have to be directly related to helping disaster victims with ministry such as counseling. He said he doesn't know a lot about the church being started by NAMB, but believes it might be involved in such ministry.

Brunson said the greatest needs near the site of the World Trade Center are spiritual needs.

"It's a different kind of disaster," he said. "What people need to realize is the greatest need it not to give money to those who lost loved ones.

"As far as what I know, that church is being started as a direct result of 9-11 and in an attempt to provide emotional and spiritual help because of 9-11."

Brunson said he might be opposed to NAMB using the money to start a church farther away from the disaster site, but in this case he thinks starting a church is a legitimate use of disaster relief funds.

"As terrible as (Hurricane) Floyd was, we didn't have the loss of life near what this was," Brunson said. "I really don't see a problem with them using funds to offer spiritual help on a long-term basis."

Brunson said N.C. Baptists gave about $457,000 to the Baptist State Convention for disaster relief following the Sept. 11 attacks. About $63,000 was spent on expenses for the N.C. teams that responded. About $275,000 was sent to ministries in New York. About $119,000 has not been spent yet, but will be sent to the New York Baptist ministry where the need seems to be greatest, he said. None of the money has been sent to NAMB, he said.

King said NAMB received about 2,800 gifts totaling about $2 million for disaster relief. The other $1.4 million was given to the Baptist groups in New York.

The gifts were designated in different ways, King said. NAMB officials talked with "a couple of dozen" donors about the intended use of the gifts, he said.

"They felt like they had an understanding of what the intent of the donors were," he said.

NAMB officials talked with Baptist officials near the Pentagon, who said the military was handling relief efforts there, King said. NAMB discussions with New York Baptists led to the allocation plan, he said.

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3/8/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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