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A Large Gift of Faith
Single Church Pledges $1 Million for Gulf Coast Recovery

By Jeff Diamant
Religion News Service
Saturday, June 3, 2006; Page B09

SUMMIT, N.J. -- Fountain Baptist Church favors exuberance in worship, its members encouraging their spirited pastor with approving nods and liberal supplies of amens.

The fervor of spirit at this 108-year-old suburban African American church, about 1,900 members strong, is matched by a charitable heart -- and pocketbook.

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The church, which started as a humble meeting place for a handful of gardeners and domestic workers, has turned heads with the sums it now gives to charitable causes around the world. The latest example is a $1 million pledge slated for hurricane recovery in the Gulf Coast, an amount considered quite generous for a major corporation or association, let alone a single church.

According to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which has monitored charitable gifts of more than $1 million since 2000, it would be only the second time a U.S. church has made a donation of such size. Oriental Mission Church in Los Angeles gave $3 million in 2001 to help victims of an earthquake in El Salvador.

Fountain Baptist held a "covenant signing" ceremony last weekend, pledging the $1 million to the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, and on Sunday turned over its first installment, $300,000, to that Washington-based organization, which will handle the money

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