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South Mississippi Living 4/07

Friday, November 23, 2007

N.J. church meets Katrina goal 6 months early

Fountain Baptist raises $1 million ahead of self-imposed 2-year deadline

Nov. 22, 2007

SUMMIT, N.J. - Parishioners at Fountain Baptist Church set a goal of raising $1 million in two years for communities hit by then beat their deadline by six months.

A group that tracks philanthropy says it is one of the largest amounts ever raised by a single U.S. church.

The church in this suburb made the promise in May 2006, with a self-imposed two-year deadline to raise the $1 million. The goal was reached this month.

"Anytime you help someone and know they're going to be blessed by your effort, there's no better feeling," said Michael Williams, a trustee of the church.

The Rev. J. Michael Sanders said that among other things, the money went for job training, housing and aid to churches impacted by the storm.

"After a while, people often forget certain things and people lose their commitment, their excitement or concern," Sanders said.

The Center on Philanthropy at says it's aware of only one other donation from a single church that was larger: the Los Angeles Oriental Mission Church's $3 million donation to earthquake victims in El Salvador in 2001.

Fountain Baptist Church officials said about 1,200 of the church's 1,900 members gave an average of $833. A donor who wished to remain anonymous gave $33,000, and another gave $15,000.

The Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, an African-American Baptist organization based in Washington, administered the donation. Fountain Baptist Church was started in 1897 by a group of black workers who gathered to pray together.

Some members don't think the giving is about to stop.

"There's still a lot of work that has to be done in that area," said Patrice Edwards, a church member for 17 years. "It's not like we met a goal and that's it."

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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