From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 25 Feb 1997 13:22:12


American Baptist News Service_____________________
Office of Communication / American Baptist Churches USA
P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
Phone: (610)768-2077 / Fax: (610)768-2320 
Richard W. Schramm, Director (E-mail:



o  A fire that gutted the Calvary Community Church in
Franklin, Pa., on Dec. 26, 1996, was deliberately set,
according to an announcement made last month by an agent
of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 
Calvary Community Church is affiliated with American
Baptist Churches USA.  The 2:30 a.m. fire, said ATF
agent Daniel Boeh, was "incendiary in nature."  Boeh said
there were no known suspects but that agents knew
where the fire started and had other information, but he
would not elaborate.  Ten ATF and ten FBI agents have
been assigned to the case because it falls under the
guidelines set forth by President Clinton s arson task
force on
church fires.  The Rev. Elizabeth Jameison, pastor of
Calvary, noted the presence of drugs in the neighborhood
and also that some church members had recently left the
68-member church because they didn t like the type of
new parishioners the church was attracting.  "I was
accused of baptizing the town drunk," she said.  "Well,
that s
what God s in business for."  American Baptists are
responding to the tragedy through a disaster response
strategy developed by National Ministries.  The Rev.
Thelma C. Mitchell, National Ministries  associate
executive director for Biblical Justice, is coordinating
the response through the offices of Volunteers In Mission
and National Disaster Response as well as The American
Baptist Extension Corporation (ABEC). 
American Baptist Men also participate in the response. 
Mitchell reported that Dr. Benjamin Greene Jr.,
director of Field Services for ABEC, has visited the site
once and will be meeting with the congregation again
this month "to hear the church leadership s vision for
ministry."  Following this meeting, a response strategy
be developed.  "Fortunately, members of American Baptist
churches have made substantial provisions to assist
arsoned churches," Mitchell said, referring to amounts in
excess of $700,000 contributed by American Baptists
last year to aid churches whose buildings had been burned
or vandalized during a series of deliberately set fires
across the U.S. south.   Earlier this year, the Olive
Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Littleton, N.C.,
rebuilding its sanctuary with the assistance of American
Baptist dollars and volunteers.  The Calvary Community
Church congregation now meets in Franklin s First Baptist
Church on Liberty Street and will continue to do so
until a permanent site is found.


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