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Church communities connected in unfortunate unity

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It is a kindred understanding that none would prefer to share but three Indiana church communities have all experienced traumatizing, if not tragic, traffic accidents involving congregation buses.

On the second anniversary of the bus crash that killed an unborn child and three adult members of Colonial Hills Baptist Church, church leaders got word of a bus carrying members of a Fishers church crashing in Kentucky.

“Certainly as our mind was already on our second year anniversary, you kind of go ‘is it possible that a similar event could occur around the same time?’ In this case to have had it twice near us,” church Deacon Jeff Leffew said.

In a devastating moment of déjà vu, the Colonial Hills community had a third incident to react to on Tuesday when a child was killed in a crash involving a bus carrying members of a church in Gary, Indiana.

Senior Pastor Charles Phelps and Deacon Jeff Leffew said they felt a responsibility to reach out to both churches in Fishers and Gary.

“We want to make sure that they know that we’re thinking of them, praying for them and that we truly have a sense for what they’re going through,” Leffew said.

Phelps, whose son, daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild died in the July 27, 2013 accident said his church community knows from experience that it can be hard to accept help in times of tragedy.

“They’ll need to be patient and they’ll need to be accepting of the support of the community that will be poured out to them, and they’ll find that God’s grace will be sufficient,” Phelps said of the church communities moving forward.

The pastor of Hamilton Hills Baptist Church in Fishers said his congregation is beginning to process what happened on Monday while receiving support including that from Colonial Hills.

“It tells me how strong our community is; strong in faith, strong with families. It tells me that people really do care and there’s a lot of people (who) care in our community,” Neal said.