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TV Towers
Just a pile of twisted steel and cables are all that remain of The Assembly's TV towers. (Photo courtesy of The Cross radio station, Facebook)

Pastor Shane Warren and his staff at The Assembly in West Monroe, Louisiana, feel blessed even though Warren estimates the church and student housing for its School of Urban Missions experienced as much as $200,000 (estimated) in damages and its television station suffered millions of dollars of damage when an EF2 tornado ripped through the city on Monday.

"We dodged a bullet," Warren says in obvious relief and thankfulness. "The tornado was right above us, we had 60 or 70 people in the church at that time - they easily could all have been killed. You look at all the damage [in the city], and it seems a lot of people should have been killed."

According to Gene Brown, the regional executive presbyter, the towers were completely torn down by the powerful winds that struck the area, twisting them around and dropping them to the ground. The tornado also tore the roof off of the station building located next to the towers.

"We had two towers, side by side; one 700 feet, the other 500 feet," Warren says. "It will cost about $1.5 million to replace the towers and another $1.5 million to replace the transmitter. We haven't been inside of the station yet — the roof was tore off and rain flooded the interior — and the equipment inside is pretty sensitive."

"The church had just finished quite a bit of repair work to the station due to some earlier flooding," Brown says. "Now, the two Christian stations they were managing, KWMS and KMCT, are off the air."

According to a Facebook report by the The Cross, a Christian radio station in neighboring Monroe, Louisiana, thousands of homes and downtown businesses in West Monroe are still without power, with numerous schools in the area being closed due to damage and power outages.

Brown observed many traffic lights down and trees uprooted in the area. But what's remarkable, he says, is that just last week international compassion ministry, Convoy of Hope, and its ministry, Rural Compassion, had stocked supplies and held a "first responders" training session at nearby Point Assembly of God, only a 20-mile drive northwest of West Monroe.

"Curtis Wilson, head of Rural Compassion in our area, has his men out right now going through the city," Brown says. "He's out there with his team, cleaning things up."

Warren says that the church's Wednesday evening services are cancelled, but if they can get a gas leak repaired, he hopes to have services on Sunday — even if only by candlelight.


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Fulton W. Buntain passes away

Mon, 11 Jun 2012 - 6:18 PM CST

Fulton Buntain
Fulton Buntain

Known as an innovator, a friend to everyone and the pastor of one of the first megachurches - Life Center (AG) of Tacoma, Washington - Fulton W. Buntain passed away Saturday evening after an extended illness. He was 86.

Buntain, who retired in 2006, was pastor emeritus at Life Center, having pastored the church for more than 40 years, which currently has a Sunday worship attendance of about 4,000.

Buntain also led the church in building a 750-student K-12 school and a senior housing complex. In addition to creating a weekly television program that ran for 35 years, Buntain was a co-founder of Calcutta Mercy Ministries and a prominent supporter of a holistic ministry in Calcutta, India — consisting of more than 100 schools, over 700 churches, a daily feeding program for 25,000 and a general hospital — founded by his brother and sister-in-law, AG missionaries Mark and Huldah Buntain.

A Canadian by birth, Buntain was ordained by the Assemblies of God on June 9, 1950, and ministered by the creed, "Find a need and meet it." In 2011, Buntain was honored as a "Pillar of Faith" by the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.

Buntain is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lorraine Buntain; three children, Michelle (Tim) Cox of Tacoma, Kathi (Greg) Hardcastle of Miami, and Robyn (Rich) Wilkerson of Miami; 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. A son, Tim, preceded Buntain in death.

The memorial service and funeral for Buntain will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, June 22, 2012, at Life Center in Tacoma. The service will also be live-streamed from the church's website.

Authors: AG News

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