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November 24, 2005 - Church Learns Mold Could Be Anywhere

Members of Baptist Church are finally looking forward to consturction of a new church building after more than five years of bouncing from one place to the next. 

In mid-August 2000, the more than 1,500-member congregation was forced to vacate its church building after large quantities of mold were found in the walls, a result of water damage.The old building, formerly located on Interstate 45 in Oak Ridge North, was then torn down in May 2003.

"We were cutting some computer cables to go in the wall and behind the sheetrock (when) we noticed this black powdery mildew everywhere," said David Hooker, deacon and church spokesman. "We just didn't have a mold problem, we had a bad mold problem. We don't know how it happened."  The church called its insurance company and had the mold tested to assess the possibility of danger to members.

"Once we found out about the problem, the insurance company suggested we get in and have this thing tested," he said. "(The mold) was at such toxic levels the insurance company realized there was a big enough health risk that they would take the building (and we couldn't use it)."

Church pastor the Rev. Gordon Sudduth said after the mold was discovered, there wasn't much time to take stock of the situation before the membership had to leave.

"The move itself was very fast," he said. "Within 10 days (of finding the mold) we had to be out. It was a shock."

Hooker said the irony is several of the schools where church services were held also were found to have mold and Oak Ridge Baptist Church was forced to move for the same reason.

Suddeth said, even though he's excited the construction on a new building is set to begin, in the beginning he and his flock did not expect they would have a need to build a new church. "We didn't know that it would be torn down that way," he said. "We were told that in nine months to a year, we would be back in. That's what we were operating under."

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