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[Marty Roney | Montgomery Advertiser] A Wetumpka church has returned a $25,000 donation, given to help the rebuilding effort after the church was damaged in the Jan. 19 tornado.

The congregation of First Baptist Church voted Sunday to return the donation from Wind Creek Casino in Wetumpka, confirmed the Rev. James Troglen.

Churches in the Southern Baptist Convention are self-governing. The congregation voted on whether to accept the donation or not, Troglen said. Many in the congregation are opposed to gambling  and felt that accepting the donation would conflict with those beliefs, he said.

“It wasn’t unanimous, but the vote was overwhelming to return the donation,” Troglen said. “The discussions were not done in a heavy-handed manner, they were done prayerfully. Certainly we accept and recognize the spirit in which the donation was offered. We felt it was one group in the community making an honest effort to help another group.

“We wrote a letter explaining our actions and returned the donation today. Our hope is that the money can go to helping in the relief effort, and that’s the desire we stated in the letter.”

Wind Creek’s efforts to support the community will continue, said Magi Williams, spokeswoman for Wind Creek Hospitality.

“A recipient of a recent donation had a change of mind and did not accept our donation,” she said. “We wish them well and will continue to offer support to our communities during times of need.”

An EF-2 tornado, packing winds of 135 miles per hour, tour through west Wetumpka the afternoon of Jan. 19. The historic chapel of First Baptist, which held its first service in 1852, was heavily damaged. The Impact Center, built about four years ago to serve the youth and ministry efforts of the church, was also heavily damaged and will likely have to be razed. The sanctuary of the church, where services are held, received minor damage.

[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Marty Roney and originally published at the Montgomery Advertiser.]


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