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Piedmontís Faith Baptist makes big impact on communitycomment (0)

September 1, 2011

By Gary Hardin

A familiar saying explains that big things come in small packages. That proved true as a small Piedmont church performed big-sized disaster relief ministry during the weeks following the April 27 tornado.

Faith Baptist Church provided six weeks of relief ministry to Piedmont’s hard-hit Goshen community.

The community is no stranger to tornadoes. On Palm Sunday in 1994, an EF4 tornado ripped the roof from Goshen United Methodist Church and slammed it down on a nearly full house of worshipers. By the time the tornado had done its damage, 20 church members had died.

On April 27, an EF4 tornado wiped out numerous homes and buildings in the community, leaving a half-mile-wide scene of devastation, but there were no fatalities.

“Amid an area of significant damage, the Faith congregation stepped up to help quickly,” said Wendell Dutton, Cherokee Baptist Association director of missions.

The church performed some of its ministry in partnership with Goshen United Methodist. A command and relief center had been established at the Methodist church, but the needs in the community were so great that Faith Baptist decided it would set up a relief center as well.

The 40 or so worshipers quickly turned the church’s fellowship hall into a distribution center. Tornado survivors were given food, clothing, water, bedding, tarps and more. Several times a day, church members delivered boxes of relief supplies to survivors.

Pastor David Smart couldn’t believe the outpouring of donations and other support.

“We received food and supplies from churches and individuals as far away as South Carolina. Several community fire departments in Randolph County delivered trailer truckloads of supplies. Members from First Baptist (Church), Piedmont, helped pack boxes in our fellowship hall. The Cherokee County Commission provided ice each day. Local businesses and Piedmont residents donated food and water. A man from Georgia brought huge pans of barbecue meat and buns.”

In fact, Faith Baptist received so much that it shared supplies with other tornado-damaged areas, Smart’s wife, Annie, pointed out.

“We would get out of church on Sunday mornings, and a truck filled with relief supplies would be in our parking lot waiting for our people to help unload,” she said.

Church member Jackie Bramlett took a week’s vacation so he could minister to tornado survivors.

“We heard amazing stories. Most people just needed to talk,” Bramlett said. “I got a blessing from just seeing the expressions of relief on people’s faces.”

Faith member Kenneth Ledbetter, who worked in the center and made deliveries in the community, felt proud of his church family.

“We’re small but we did all anyone could do. We helped a lot of people.”

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