In Good Faith

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

September 30, 2005
A new program will re-imburse churches and other religious groups for helping with the hurricane relief effort. News 12's Kate Tillotson is on your side with how FEMA is thanking you for your donations.

Jimmy Perkins and Bill Weir are leaving for Louisiana tomorrow. It'll cost them each roughly two hundred dollars, but they don't mind.

"I think this is the church's job and this is what we're all about is helping each other in a time of need and I don't think the government needs to come in and help us do that," Perkins explains.

But FEMA says it will step in and reimburse churches and other faith-based groups for providing food and supplies to hurricane victims. Warren Baptist church housed one hundred evacuees here at this shelter for two weeks.

"I don't know if we would be on a list, we're not looking to be on a list. We wouldn't be looking for any kind of reimbursement," David Fleming, Senior Pastor said.

And neither, says Pastor Bob Fuller, would he, citing his church members donated because they wanted to, not because they expected something in return.

"Frankly, I don't know that the church would accept a reimbursement because this is something that we do out of an act of faith and an act of gratitude," Pastor Fuller said.

The same act FEMA is now being criticized for, some accusing the department of violating the separation of church and state. While details of the plan have yet to be worked out, churches that ran shelters and medical centers at the government's request would be eligible. Especially in states like Louisiana and Mississippi.

"They're really digging into their reserves and their operating expenses to be able to do what they're needed to do," Senior Pastor Fleming said.

Doing what they're needed to do is what church-goers here say they've done all along.

"The people give out of their heart. They don't give expecting to receive," Faye Starnes, a Church-goer explains.

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