A Cooperative Baptist Fellowship partner church in Sevier County, Tenn., lost a youth building and van to wildfires raging through the Great Smoky Mountains that killed at least three people, scorched hundreds of homes and businesses and sent more than 14,000 people fleeing the resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
The Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship reported Nov. 30 that the main building of First Baptist Church in Gatlinburg is safe, but an adjoining facility that hosted youth gatherings and was home to the church custodian was lost to the flames, and many members of the congregation have lost their homes.
Another CBF partnering congregation, Ball Camp Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., is coordinating relief efforts in the immediate vicinity, accepting donations of bottled water, toiletries, non-perishable food, clothing, diapers, pillows and blankets.
Tennessee CBF is partnering with the Disciples of Christ to collect needed supplies in western and middle Tennessee for delivery to the Gatlinburg area. Items requested include hand towels, hand sanitizer, tooth brushes, toothpaste, deodorant, fingernail clippers, flushable personal wipes and gallon-size re-sealable plastic food-storage bags.
Tennessee CBF is receiving financial donations to benefit future relief efforts to be determined in coming days.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is not equipped to be a first responder to natural disasters with resources like mobile kitchens and shower units but seeks to minister through long-term presence helping people and communities rebuild.