College distributes funds to help burned churches
July 26, 2006
G. David Pollick
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UMNS) — Ten rural Alabama churches that were damaged
or destroyed by arson this year are receiving checks from United Methodist-related
Birmingham-Southern College, which launched a fund last spring to help the congregations
Teams of students, faculty and staff have delivered
checks to nine of the churches, and the remaining check will be presented
With the delivery
of the final check, the school’s Alabama Churches Rebuilding and Restoration
Fund will have disbursed more than $368,000 to the burned churches, a spokesperson
“We’ve received support from all over the country and from many
who do not have a connection to Alabama or Birmingham-Southern College,” said
President David Pollick in a news release. “I have been deeply touched
by the show of respect for our students and the moral stance of our college.”
Birmingham-Southern established the fund in March,
upon learning that two of its students — along with a former student who had transferred to
the University of Alabama-Birmingham — had been arrested and charged
in nine of the attacks. The school’s response also included a 10th church,
destroyed Feb. 11 but not linked to the other fires.
Through the fund, the college said it was also distributing money collected
for the churches in other campaigns, including more than $55,000 from a joint
effort of the National Conference for Community and Justice, AmSouth Bank,
and FOX 6/WBRC TV, and more than $33,000 from the Community Foundation of West
Another $150,000 was donated by a couple in Jackson Hole, Wyo., who asked
to remain anonymous, and the remainder of the $368,000 came from contributions
directly to the college, a school spokesperson said.
The fires, all of which occurred in early February, destroyed six churches
and damaged the other four. African-American and white congregations alike
The destroyed churches are receiving $53,000 each from the fund. They are
Ashby Baptist Church in the Brierfield community, Pleasant Sabine Baptist near
Centerville, and Rehobeth Baptist in the Lawley community, all in Bibb County;
and Beaverton Freewill Baptist in Lamar County, Galilee Baptist in the Panola
community of Sumter County, and Morningstar Missionary Baptist in the Boligee
community of Greene County. Morningstar will be the final church to receive
|A UMNS Web-only photo courtesy of Birmingham-Southern College
Birmingham-Southern College is distributing more than $368,000 to rural Alabama churches burned by arson this year.
The remaining $50,000 has been divided among the damaged churches: Antioch
Baptist Church in the Antioch community of Bibb County, Dancy First Baptist
in Aliceville, Old Union Baptist in the Brierfield community of Bibb County,
and Spring Valley Baptist in the Gainesville community of Sumter County.
The school said the money is being distributed equitably according to the
individual needs of the churches.
As part of its response to the fires, the school formed teams of faculty,
staff and students to work with each church. Team members worshipped with the
congregations and spent time building relationships with them. The efforts
were overseen by Stewart Jackson, dean of the chapel at Birmingham-Southern.
“The teams are a link between the church and the resources that the
college is distributing,” Jackson said in a news release. Each church
had its own resources and needs, he noted. “Therefore we needed our teams
to get to know them and help us make the best use of the gifts that have and
are being given.”
On the first Sunday in October, the school will be hosting a luncheon on campus
for the members of all 10 of the churches. In addition, plans are under way
to provide volunteer labor to at least one of the churches as it rebuilds.
“The college does have a desire to continue a relationship with these
churches indefinitely,” the school spokesperson told United Methodist
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.