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Donations Received by First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs

Our church has been generously sustained in the months since the tragedy of last November. Prayers,
comfort, counseling and material assistance have come to us from our neighbors and from
congregations across the country. God has used all these people to bring us through a terrible ordeal.
Through it all, First Baptist has not missed a Sunday service. The church currently meets three times a
week in a temporary structure. We are grateful. As assistance has come our way, we have received
questions about how the resources have been handled. Here is some information about how that
response has helped individuals affected by the tragedy and our entire church body.

Our Ministry

 First Baptist Church has not missed a Sunday Service. We currently meet three times a week in a
temporary structure on our property. We plan to meet in this facility until a permanent building
is available.
 Our attendance has grown significantly since November. We are regularly seeing 150
worshippers on Sunday with growth as high as 300 on special occasions.
 Our Southern Baptist family in Texas, The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, has helped us
weather a very challenging time of ministry by providing our pastor’s salary for a year, some
administrative assistance for the pastor (as his work load has increased) and with skilled
volunteer help as needed.

Managing the Gifts We Have Received

 The money and other resources given and offered to us in the recent months are greatly
appreciated and have enabled us to meet the immediate needs of the victims as we learn of
them. We established an account at Wells Fargo for victim assistance separate from normal
church offerings and expenses and these funds are being used solely to fund those needs.
Additionally, when it became clear that the church did not have the resources to process direct
donations received at the church offices, we established a second specialized lockbox account
with Amegy Bank and provided information on the church website to send these items directly
to this account for professional third party processing. Amegy received this correspondence,
separated mail directed to individual families and had that delivered to those families, scanned
in checks designated for the church, and then provided cover notes with well wishes to the
church. This account results in a third party independent data record.
 A Restoration Committee made up of two long-time church members, one new church member
who previously served as a deacon of a neighboring church prior to the tragedy and two non-
members has been formed to consider requests, needs and allocations. Our pastor serves on
the Committee as a non-voting member. The members of this committee were nominated at a
meeting of the church membership at which members of the Southern Baptists of Texas
Convention were present. The church felt it was important to have both church leaders and
independent third parties on the committee to get the benefit of a broad base of wisdom in the
difficult decisions that were sure to come.
 The Committee has been careful to honor donor intent as they make allocations and has sought
to be generous as well as diligent.

Victim Assistance

 Many have contributed money and other assistance to help those affected by the tragedy
recover and transition to new life challenges.
 Some money has also come in to help the church but without any specific designation.
 Designated money has been carefully used according to the donor’s intent with respect to victim
assistance versus church related activities. Needs that have been addressed through these gifts
include: medical supplies, home repairs, food, gas, meeting handicap accessibility needs for
residences, utility and other bills, vehicle repairs, mortgage payments, expenses associated with
the probate process and other living expenses.
 We have also received assistance for grief counseling by means of donated professional services
and in some cases volunteer pastoral care.
 GoFundMe accounts set up in individual names have not been distributed to the church as
GoFundMe distributes accounts to their designated beneficiary.

Our Property

 One of the people killed last November 5 had a vision for the church to acquire an adjoining
piece of property. The church never had the means to realize that.
 The church received multiple offers to assist with a new facility. Following much prayer, the
Church elected the North American Mission Board to lead this process, in large part because
they committed to cover any funding gap following the utilization of in kind commitments and
any donations received for the specific purpose of the new church building. The church felt
placing this burden on any other kind individual offering help was not something they could do
in good conscience.
 Donations in kind from the previous owner of the adjacent property, along with a generous
financial gift from the Rebuilding Sutherland Springs organization led by Brad Belden allowed
the church to acquire this land that runs from the existing building to Highway 87. The
acquisition all received in kind services support from My Title Company and the engineering
firm, Pape-Dawson, and legal guidance was provided by the law firm compensated by Church
Mutual, the church’s insurer. No cash outlay from the church was required due to this
wonderful generosity.
 Our former church building has been repurposed as a memorial for the victims and their
families. No long-term plans have been formulated for that building.
Our Future Church Building

 Within days of the tragedy, we had determined that the former building could not be used to
hold church services in the future.
 Our Southern Baptist family responded to our need by assuring us that they would make sure
we had what we needed to build a new facility so we could continue our ministry in Sutherland
 Several companies have offered to help with one part or another of a building project and our
Southern Baptist North American Mission Board (NAMB) announced March 27 that they would
ensure the funds to complete a new building to house us for worship and Bible study. Although
not opulent by any means, the new building being planned is attractive, adequate for our
current ministry needs and will also house a memorial area honoring the victims and families
affected by out tragedy last year.
o The new sanctuary will accommodate seating for 250. To ease visualization of scale, the
current temporary facility seats approximately 220.
o The church consulted with experts at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention who
analyzed historical attendance patterns, recent attendance and projected demographic
changes to provide a recommendation as to size of sanctuary and necessary classroom
space for classes and other gatherings.
o The new sanctuary will host weddings, baptisms and other special events to provide a
way to bring joy to our community.
 The church plans were presented to the church membership and approved by the members in
advance of being announced.
 The plans for our future church building include multiple phases that will not all be part of the
building we hope to begin building in May. The drawings some have seen are conceptual,
imagining our needs far beyond the scope of the current plan.
 Although the building project is estimated to approach $3 million in cost, volunteers, gifts in
kind and other resources make it likely the project will be less than this estimate.
 To date no funds received by the church have been used for the proposed building and funds
designated for victim assistance will, under no circumstances, be used to fund building projects.
 The first gift received for the project following announcement was the gift from Rebuilding
Sutherland Springs and is designated solely for use in the sanctuary. In kind assistance
commitments received by Mr. Beldon were also provided and the firm retained by NAMB who
will be coordinating with these in kind donors.


 The church maintained an insurance policy with Church Mutual which insures churches
throughout the country.
 The insurance company has paid all costs associated with leasing the temporary sanctuary on
the church property. This facility must be returned at the end of the lease. The Pruitt Foundation
provided a direct gift of the chairs in the sanctuary along with the special Christmas decorations.
 The policy also paid for the cost of repairing the original church building but, as is normal under
insurance policies, does not pay the cost of a new church unless the insured property is
completely destroyed.
 The insurance company has also paid for all legal counsel received by the church to date. The
church has not used any gifts received for legal advice due to this generous support


 The Restoration Committee includes both church members and individuals that had not met
members of the church prior to their appointment.
 Membership of the Restoration Committee includes longtime residents who have deep roots in
the community and retired executives who reside within an hour of the church to provide
additional experience with financial, insurance, real estate, charitable and governance matters.
 The church retained Amegy’s sophisticated lockbox services to process donations and avoid any
concerns that could result from volunteer church members or church staff processing donations.
 The bank accounts have been established with very limited signature authority and escalating
levels of approvals necessary for withdrawals depending on the size of the victim distribution to
be made to provide further assurance against any misuse of funds. These signatory authorities
are set forth in the bylaws and Restoration Committee Charter adopted by the members of the
church. The staff, including the Pastor, do not have signature authority on accounts.
 The Restoration Committee is working to finalize its initial reports to the membership with
regards to donations received and distributions made.
 Representatives from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention participate in weekly meetings
with the church and other support providers for additional oversight.
 The privacy of the victims is of utmost importance to the church.

We believe God has sustained us during difficult days. He has used people from all around the world to
encourage us and to provide material support we very much needed. Our prayer and intent is to
continue to serve our Lord and our neighbors here in Sutherland Springs.

Media Inquiries: Gary Ledbetter