Fire tests mettle of Second Baptist Bowling Green
BOWLING GREEN – In 1920 Second Baptist Bowling Green was built with only one thing in mind, to witness to and disciple people all for the glory of God. Today, about 86 years later its mission remains the same, but not without some resistance from the devil along the way. On April 9 the church suffered a horrible and unexpected catastrophe in the form of a fire that broke out in the church basement, originating from a coffee pot. On that day Rhonda Pugh, a member who lives across the street, noticed the smoke coming from the church and made the 911 call. “If the fire was called in and put out 10-15 minutes later we would’ve lost the whole building,” said Don Amelung, pastor of Second Baptist.
He also went on to say, “We are very fortunate for an excellent insurance policy, and I would encourage that pastors examine their policies to make sure ‘cost replacement’ is included. That is what allowed us to repair all of the damage.” But a good insurance policy isn’t the only thing that saw the church through such an ordeal. There has been support donated by sister churches around the area, as chairs were donated by Curryville Baptist Church, Christian Church of Bowling Green and First Baptist Louisiana. These donations have allowed the church to continue gathering in their gym for services.
One of the deacons of Second Baptist said, “We’d never ask or hope for something like this to happen, but we are the most logical church for this to happen to because we had the facilities and resources to work through it.”
On Nov. 12 the church had a day of dedication, as it celebrated the first time services had been held in the auditorium since the fire broke out. That Sunday the theme came from Matt. 16:18 where Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” David Clippard, MBC executive director, was the keynote speaker, and Deacons Jim Hearn, Bob McKee and Brad Hufty addressed the past, present and future of Second Baptist.
“The Lord works in mysterious ways” Amelung said, “Things are much nicer than they had been – considering all the extensive damage from the smoke and fire. All of the old wiring has been replaced.” The pastors who were present and offered support on the day of dedication were Robert Warren, Nazarene Church; Jerry Gamm, Curryville Baptist Church; Stan Henderson, Eastern Missouri Cowboy Church; and Frank Welch, Director of Missions for Salt River Baptist Association. Also present was State Rep. Terry Witte (D-Vandalia) and his wife.
The Bowling Green Police Department along with Maria Bryant from ServPro were recognized for their part in the events that took place on April 9, along with churches who spent many months in Bowling Green working “hands on” in the restoration of Second Baptist.
Except for a few items, such as the restoration of the organ in St. Louis, the work has been done locally, and has been bid by local contractors. These local contractors were also present during the dedication ceremony, and were recognized for a job well done. These contractors include Robert Dempsey, Dempsey Construction; Leroy Perkins, Perkins Electric; Bob Ingram, Ingram Plumbing; and Duane Willingham, Old Tyme Antiques. Other local contractors mentioned include Wright’s Furniture, MASH and Country Design.
Such a tragedy, estimating a cost of about $750,000 after deconstruction, reconstruction and restoration of all the contents in the basement and auditorium, could have never been imagined, but Second Baptist Bowling Green is prevailing, just as God’s Word said. “The church is very upbeat,” Amelung said, “God uses ‘all things for the good,’ and we are bigger and better for the glory of God.”