Smithfield Church Will Need Help Rebuilding

Repair Costs Exceed Insurance

On September 8th around 12:30am, Pastor Mike Walls was awakened by a telephone call. Walls received news a driver had ran off N. Brightleaf Boulevard in Smithfield and plowed into the front of his church. It was the third time in recent years a car had struck Freedom Baptist Church.

Police said Phasia Rachelle Jones, 25, of Dunn was traveling southbound with two children, ages 1 and 4, in her car. The vehicle ran off the road on the right, struck a curb, went airborne, then collided with the side of the church. The car traveled about 10 feet inside the church damaging a classroom and bathrooms. Jones and the children were briefly trapped in the car but sustained only minor injuries.

Jones was later charged with driving while impaired and child abuse.

While the front section of Freedom Baptist has been condemned until repairs can be made, the rear portion of the church is still usable for Sunday morning worship services.

Pastor Walls said he just learned estimated repair costs will be around $70,000. The entire front brick facade will need to be removed and structural repairs made.

Wall said Jones’ auto insurance will only cover $25,000 towards the damages, leaving a deficit of about $45,000.  Its money the small church congregation simply doesn’t have.

Walls says he will be reaching out to the community and other churches soon asking for help rebuilding.  The minister says he isn’t letting the damage set him or the small church congregation back.