BETA

After Baptist church burns, stake helps `fellow Christians'

Furnishings from the Suitland Maryland Stake Center, which is being refurbished, have been donated to a Baptist congregation that recently lost its meetinghouse to a fire.

Pews, chapel lighting, drapes, restroom fixtures and computer software that were removed from the stake center will help the Community Baptist Church in Cedar Heights, Md., recover from the disaster.All the items and a number of supplies from the stake center have been donated. A local moving and storage company has offered storage space until the Baptist church can rebuild.

Members of the Cedar Heights church had just finished rehearsing a Christmas play on Dec. 15. During the closing prayer, an explosion and gas-fed fire erupted in the vestibule, quickly burning the 69-year-old building to the ground. The members, including a number of children, escaped without injury, a blessing deemed miraculous by their pastor, Dr. Carl E. Keels.

Ben Mercer of the Suitland stake informed the 150-member African-American church of the availability of the surplus equipment from the stake center on Jan. 8.

The homeless Baptist congregation is meeting in the garage of a local fire station but, as a result of the Suitland Stake donations, now has some items to help them begin again.

When a stake member told him about the Baptist group's loss, Stake Pres. Spencer (Tim) Blackburn commented that "it just seemed to make sense that we should share our own blessings with fellow Christians."

Community Baptist has a long way to go. Local ordinances were changed last year requiring that new church buildings be built on two-acre plots - the lot they have is only three-quarters of an acre. The insurance policy for the building that burned was obtained many years ago and comes nowhere near covering the cost of a new building or its contents. Pastor Keels observed that the generosity of the LDS Church has "given us hope and an even stronger testimony that the Lord answers the prayers of His servants who are in need."