Bunnell Church Services Reflect on Fires

Article excerpt

BUNNELL -- Mike Kuypers took the microphone yesterday as he had

done many times during the past couple of weeks.

This time, it wasn't a media microphone. It wasn't for a news

briefing.

Kuypers, director of the Florida Division of Forestry's Bunnell

district, was instead apologizing to Sunday worshipers for the

recent wildfire evacuation of Flagler County.

"I know the evacuation was a major inconvenience, but I hope

you support us in our decision," Kuypers said. "It was the best

thing to do. We thank everyone who helped with the fight. It's

been a trying month, and I just want to thank everyone for their

prayers."

His unrehearsed apology and expression of appreciation received

a standing ovation from his church, First United Methodist

Church in Bunnell, where about 70 people gathered on the first

Sunday since the three-day mandatory evacuation of Flagler

County.

Across the county, church sermons were altered to include

messages about how the fires had changed the lives of Flagler's

40,000 residents.

There was no guessing game necessary to know fire impacted the

2,000 people of Bunnell. Entering the city yesterday, signs,

thanking firefighters, were posted on homes and strung across

street posts.

Church marquees also had messages of thanks and hope, or

messages with fire as the theme, such as the one outside First

Baptist Church of Bunnell: "Creating a Fire Within, 2 Kings

5:1-14, July 12."

At Kuypers' church, the Rev. Ronald McCreary's sermon was

titled "Having Come Through the Fire."

"I changed the sermon schedule this Sunday and next Sunday to

say something about the fires and our role in helping others,"

said McCreary, before asking members to greet each other. …