Area religious delegates head to the White House

By Roslyn Giles  - email | bio

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - Reverend Daniel Wilborn, III and Isaiah Sumbry both have seen firsthand the destruction caused by church burnings.  They are among 25 delegates traveling to the White House Wednesday with the National Coalition of Burnt Churches.  "We look at church burnings like domestic violence where we should have the right to worship regardless of other groups and their feelings. We shouldn't tread on their territory and they shouldn't tread on ours," says Wilborn.

But, arsonists did tread on Greater Bethelpore Baptist Church's territory. January 2008, the church was destroyed by arsonists.  Wilborn says when they meet with The Justice Department, he will convey that the punishment fit the crime. "Sometimes, the person is out of jail before the church is rebuilt," says Wilborn.

The coalition also wants to get government funding implemented during the Clinton Administration, but eliminated during the Bush years, reinstated. "Students come from Harvard University and The University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. These are students who want to come and volunteer but funds are not available," says Wilborn.

As for Bethelpore, it's now time to give back.

"Now that we have been the recipient of the organization, we're going to go there to see how we can play a part to work with other churches devastated like we have been," added Sumbry.

Wilborn says Alabama leads the nation in church burnings caused by arson.  They say they're delighted that they've been invited to the White House to get their message across.

Bethelpore's new church is almost complete.

©2009 WTVM. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.