WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) — First Baptist Church of Wetumpka Pastor Dr. James Troglen confirmed church members voted Sunday to return a donation from the Wind Creek Casinos. The $25,000 was one of three donation checks presented by a team from Wind Creek nearly a week after a tornado destroyed or severely damaged a number of structures in the city's downtown area.
Troglen said his congregation was "extremely moved" by the donation and said it's a clear indicator of the shared appreciation the church and the casino have for each organization's contributions to the Wetumpka community.
But, according to Troglen, the church has a specific policy about accepting monetary donations. He said the church never cashed the check it was given, and at a regularly scheduled business meeting on Sunday, a majority of church members who voted were against keeping the money from the casino.
While the vote was not unanimous, Troglen said he does not support "legalized gambling" and that members who share that view felt it would be a conflict of interest to accept funds from the casino.
Troglen reiterated the church is grateful for Wind Creek's generosity, and he expressed that the church is working with its insurance company to move through the rebuilding process. He told WSFA 12 News that part of the discussion when returning the money is the church's hope that Wind Creek will redirect it to other groups and individuals who lost homes and other items in the storm.
Members of the church said FBC has been "incredibly resilient" following the Jan. 19 tornado. On Tuesday, strong winds destroyed the temporary roof the church had placed on its Historic Chapel after the tornado destroyed the original roof.
Despite more damage, the church still carried out its children education services.
A staff member told WSFA 12 News the chapel was where special functions and events are usually held.
WSFA 12 News is still waiting on more information on the church's next steps.
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