By Brian Blackwell, Message staff writer
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – The Woman’s Missionary Union Foundation has gifted the Louisiana Baptist Convention $25,000 to cover insurance deductibles for four Baptist Collegiate Ministry sites, as well as the Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center and the Baptist Building — all damaged by Hurricane Laura.
While insurance adjusters have not completed full assessments for all the facilities, preliminary reports estimate there is at least a combined $1.2 million in damages, according to Dale Lingenfelter, business and information services director for Louisiana Baptists.
The BCM facilities at McNeese State University, Louisiana Tech, University of Louisiana and Louisiana State University, Alexandria, will need either partial or complete roof replacements. The roof of the Louisiana Baptist Building, the state mission center in Alexandria, also needs repairs. Meanwhile, Tall Timbers must repair one of
its cabins, the ropes course and the loading dock that were damaged by Laura.
“The damage to McNeese BCM was extensive,” Lingenfelter told the Baptist Message. “The roof damage allowed a lot of water inside which will call for a complete rebuild of the interior and replacement of all contents. We are working with insurance and work has already begun on the rebuild. We are grateful for all of our ministry partners in the Southern Baptist network, like the Woman’s Missionionary Union Foundation, that have blessed us and so many others in times of need.”
The donation was given through the WMU HEART Fund, which stands for Humanitarian Emergency Aid (for) Rebuilding Tomorrow. Established in 2001, the fund allows for the WMU Foundation to respond to requests from WMU leaders in humanitarian emergencies.
David George, president of the WMU Foundation, said his organization first learned of the need in Louisiana from Ann Marie Mills, a WMU Foundation Board member who is a member of Temple Baptist Church in Ruston. After
discussing the situation further with Lingenfelter and Janie Wise, women’s missions and ministry strategist for Louisiana Baptists, the WMU Foundation was elated to help the six damaged facilities in the state.
“We realized that if the WMU Foundation could make a grant of $25,000, we could cover the deductible for all six damaged buildings and sites,” George said. “Praise God that WMU women and men have given so generously to the WMU HEART Fund over the years so that we can quickly respond to emergencies like these.”
Both of Louisiana’s WMU Foundation Board members expressed appreciation for the grant.
“When I saw the devastation from Laura, the WMU Foundation Heart Fund quickly came to my mind,” Mills said. “I’m so happy that the resources designated for disaster recovery were helpful to our Baptist family across the state.”
Vice Chair Cindy Walker, a member of First Baptist Church, Minden, likewise was grateful the grant would go to “help fill a desperate need in my home state of Louisiana.”
Blake Grundy, director of the McNeese State BCM, said he is grateful for the volunteers who helped with the cleanup, the emergency donations from the WMU Foundation, churches and others, as well as the emotional and spiritual support offered by many since Laura.
“We have truly been blessed by our brothers and sisters in Christ.”