Macedonia Baptist continues to healcomment (0)
September 14, 2000
By Greg Heyman
A northeast Alabama church continues to recover following a July van accident that left two adult members dead and several teenagers injured.
Charles Johnson, 40, and his wife, Lisa, 38, were killed July 15 when a van they were riding in wrecked on I-59 near Springville. The couple was serving as chaperones on a youth missions trip to Gulf Shores sponsored by Macedonia Baptist Church, Coates Bend.
While the church is still struggling, the accident has also helped bond church members.
“I think it’s made the church stronger,” said Diane Roberson, a member of Macedonia. “We’ve pulled together a lot more.”
The Johnsons and the injured youth were traveling in a van driven by Macedonia Pastor Dave Roberts. A second van, driven by then-youth minister Tim Womack, was traveling ahead of the other van but was not involved in the wreck.
Roberson is the cousin of the youth most seriously injured in the accident, Stephen Starr, 13, who received massive head injuries. The youth returned home last weekend, after staying at Birmingham’s University (UAB) Hospital since the accident.
Roberson said Starr has been undergoing daily therapy for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. She added he will begin therapy three times a week in Gadsden.
The youth is having problems with his speech, motor skills and memory, according to Roberson. She said he identified her as his aunt rather than his cousin during a recent visit.
“But that was good enough,” she said.
The news is also encouraging for two other youth injured in the wreck who have already returned home.
Trey Strickland, 13, continues to travel to Birmingham for therapy following a leg injury and facial damage sustained in the accident. A second teenager, Nathan Greer, 16, has recovered from a concussion he received in the wreck.
Also injured in the wreck was Roberts’ wife, Faye, 44. Sauls said she sustained a fractured vertebrae and punctured lung and will have to wear a plastic cast until mid-October.
Womack and Macedonia minister of music Jeff Sauls said the support of the community and from across the state have been instrumental in Macedonia’s healing process. Womack, who resigned Aug. 31, referred to those who have expressed support as “our Christian family across the state.”
Church members said community support has been instrumental in helping the Johnsons’ only son, Wesley, deal with the loss of both parents.
While Womack said he realized many would think his resignation was due to the van accident, he stressed that was not the case.
“I’ve had a successful ministry for seven years and felt like the Lord was leading me to do this,” said Womack, who is also a teacher at Glencoe Elementary School in Glencoe.
“I don’t want anyone to think that the wreck hasn’t affected me, because it has,” Womack said.
“At the same time, I don’t want anyone to think it is solely because of the wreck that I am resigning,” Womack added. “It is not.”