- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ark. (AP) - The Bible says the rain falls on the just and the unjust, and that’s something the members of Columbus Baptist Church have found rings true.

Weather woes seemingly caused the tall, 128-year-old church in Columbus to lean to one side, which resulted in buckled walls, broken windows and doors that won’t shut and made it unsafe for the small congregation to hold worship services there.

Church officials believe the damage was caused by high winds this spring, but their insurance adjusters believe foundation issues are what caused the building to lean, resulting in a settlement from the insurance company that will hardly cover replacement of the two roofs and siding, the Texarkana Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1J4nTzb ).

“We are just between a rock and a hard spot. We don’t have a church to worship in, and it will take thousands of dollars to put the building back in order,” said the Rev. James Stewart, who has served as pastor there for more than five years.

But this isn’t the first time the little church that was organized in a saloon in 1887 has faced a situation that required divine intervention.

Fundraising was a part of paying for the construction’s “lumber bill,” according to church documents. The labor was donated, as were the funds for seating, and most recently, windows of the church were restored.

For now, the congregation is meeting in the church’s fellowship hall, and neither Stewart nor his deacon board knows what direction the church will ultimately take as they await input from officials within their denomination about their options.

“We have a church we can’t worship in. Visitors want to go into a church, not a fellowship hall. They want to feel like they are worshipping in a sanctuary, not in a kitchen with tables,” Stewart said. “We hate to lose the church. There have been a lot of funerals, weddings, crying and souls being saved in there.”

Those interested in donating to the church’s building fund may do so through Columbus Baptist Church.

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Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com

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