Support for Roachdale church still growing

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

News of the sewer problems plaguing the Family of God Church in Roachdale has spread far beyond the community in northern Putnam County.

Charlene Hutchins, who resides in Peru, Ind., saw the church's story when it aired on Indianapolis television news stations earlier this month and decided to act.

"There was a need and we just wanted to do anything we could to help," Hutchins told the BannerGraphic Monday.

Hutchins is an impersonator of famed country music singer Loretta Lynn and has performed at various venues in northern Indiana since 2003. Her husband George is her manager and the two perform "Sounds of Loretta Lynn by Charlene" mostly for residents of nursing homes.

But when she heard about the Family of God Church, Hutchins thought it would be nice to come down and put on a benefit performance for the church. She said she has performed similar shows for people who have been victims of house fires or other disasters.

Church members were in the process of starting a local food pantry when water, smelling of sewage, flooded the church's basement during the New Year's Day weekend. Since then, they have received several donations from the community to help them restart the food pantry.

Last Sunday, Hutchins and her husband traveled the more than 100 miles to DePauw University's Kresge Auditorium in Greencastle where they put on a performance to a modest crowd of supporters.

They managed to raise a few hundred dollars for the church, but parishioners and the performer alike say the experience was worthwhile.

"It's just a lot of fun and it's truly a blessing for George and I," Hutchins said.

Edie Phillips, wife of the church's pastor Larry Phillips, said she was grateful for the Hutchins taking an interest in the church. Phillips said she had no prior knowledge of the performing couple.

"God just led them to call us," she said.

Meanwhile, church members are still busy about the task of removing the damage left by the New Year's Day flood.

They are continuing to hold Sunday services at the Bainbridge Community Center and Phillips hopes to be back in the church in another month.

However, she worries that health officials may be less likely to allow church members to return since this is the third time the basement has been flooded in about a year.

"This time they're wanting to know that it's not going to happen again," Phillips said. "And that makes it tough when you can't get anybody to take responsibility."

Phillips and her husband say the town isn't taking responsibility for the sewage back-up. Town officials have declined to comment.

On Monday Phillips told the BannerGraphic the church has hired an attorney.

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