On a Mission
Bishop Clifford Duckworth (in tie left and in burgandy garb at right) says help is on the way for African Christians.
African expedition an adventure in love for Wadley preacher
• Mission trip to Ghana inspires Redeemed church to go worldwide
By Luke Moses
Redeemed Church Senior Bishop Clifford Duckworth said that help is on the way for Christians and churches in parts of Africa and India.
In October, with the assistance of two interpreters, Bishop Duckworth and eight other members of the Redeemed Church family held the first of what the church hopes will be many seminars teaching, training, and helping pastors and members of over 100 churches in Ghana.
The goal of the seminars was to help ill-prepared pastors with limited knowledge of church operations to become better prepared and, in effect, run more efficient churches.
"We gave the leaders there an introduction of what needed to be done," said Duckworth, "but I think it will be an ongoing process."
During the 10-day trip, Duckworth and the other members traveled to other West African cities and villages and ministered between 10 and 15 primitive churches throughout the region.
Duckworth said that one of the most moving experiences of the mission was his visit along with over 60 other pastors to a Liberian refugee camp in Budumburam where 35,000 Liberians lived on a one-acre plot.
Duckworth and the other representatives of Redeemed Church traveled to Cape Coast Africa after the mission to tour Elamina Castle, the holding place for all those who were brought to North America as slaves. Sixty million have slept in the dungeons beneath the castle, which was used not only as a prison and a fort, but also as a home to Spanish and later Portuguese officials.
The tour of Cape Coast and the mission trip in Ghana and other villages were "life changing" for Duckworth.
"I won't ever be the same," confessed Duckworth about his experience. "In actuality, I understood my affinity with the African people. It's a point of origin."
Duckworth said that there is not a problem with the faith of the people in Ghana. He said that the residents of Ghana were some of the most faithful and devout Christians he had ever met. The problem, he said, is that buildings and churches in Ghana are in the poorest condition that he has ever seen. According to Duckworth, most of the churches did not have four walls that extended from floor to ceiling. Some churches had no doors or roofs and the Christian ministers in Ghana have not been given the same advantages pastors in the United States have been given.
With these problems in mind, the Redeemed Church body has decided to spread from a family of 13 churches in the United States to an international family of over 100 churches.
Duckworth said that the churches will receive training on everything from ministering to office management. Physical conditions of the churches are also expected to improve.
Bishop Luke Jones, who also attended the mission trip, will act as international coordinator.
The church has contacts throughout Africa who will be able to monitor the progress of the churches.
Because the church is going on an international level, the name Redeemed Church will be changed to Kingdom Life Fellowship Ministries International.
The Kingdom Life Fellowship Ministries International will also oversee churches in India.
Duckworth, Jones and other church leaders will be conducting a mission trip in India this month to further spread Christianity.
The church is very excited about the journey that lies ahead and the new members in Africa and India are extremely eager about being provided with new opportunities and advantages to better practice their beliefs.
$50,000 embezzled from Wadley store
• Tiffany Taussau was bookkeeper at Wadley IGA grocery
By Ben Nelms
Wadley resident Tiffany Taussau turned herself in at the Jefferson County jail Jan. 24 in connection to the theft of approximately $50,000 from the Wadley IGA grocery store where she was employed as bookkeeper. She was later charged with seven counts of theft by conversion.
Wadley Police Chief Ben Brown said Monday that knowledge of the incident occurred when the IGA manager contacted his office Jan. 23. Brown was told that upon checking the store's accounts, the manager discovered withdrawals of $12,000-$15,000 had been made on several occasions over a one to two-week period at the same time deposits of $5,000 were made to get change for the days' operation.
During the same period of time Taussau made arrangements to purchase a new vehicle from an Augusta car dealership, according to a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. Taussau allegedly provided $10,000 as a down payment and wrote a personal check for the balance. The check had not cleared the bank at the time Taussau turned herself in at the jail, the spokesman said.
An investigation determined that Taussau had within the same time frame deposited an undisclosed amount of money into her own bank account in Swainsboro. Her account was frozen after bank officials determined an impropriety with her account, Brown said.
Taussau was being held in Jefferson County jail on $75,000 bond and was later transferred to Emanuel County jail where she will face charges relating to the illegal deposits made into her personal account.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman Mike Seigler said the agency opened its investigation regarding the theft of funds Jan. 28 at Brown's request. Seigler said the investigation into the theft is active and ongoing.
Thermo King releases workers in third layoff in last 9 months
By Ben Nelms
Jefferson County's 9.0 percent unemployment rate crept higher late last week with the announcement that an undisclosed number of hourly, production employees at the Thermo King plant in Louisville would be laid off Jan. 31.
Company officials declined to disclose the number of layoffs, stating that the reduction was handled on the basis of seniority.
"We feel that each individual affected is significant," said Human Resources Supervisor Mary Margaret Clark. "Providing the number of individuals affected by the reduction in force would lessen the individual impact."
Clark added that no current plans exist for additional reduction in force measures.
The current labor reduction, one of three since spring 2002, were due to a decreased number of orders effecting the Louisville plant, said Clark.
According to information provided by company officials the affected employees will be eligible for unemployment compensation and, through Sandersville Technical College, will be provided with information about related educational opportunities. Affected employees will also be eligible to receive from the company's Transition Assistance Plan and to continue their current company medical and dental insurance benefits for up to one year.
The last layoffs at the Louisville occurred in May 2002 and again in September. None of the affected employees from those reductions have been recalled, said Clark.
The Louisville plant opened in November 1964. In recent years Thermo King has been the largest employer in Jefferson County, Clark said. The plant produces air conditioners for buses, coils for refrigeration units and many of the compressors used in company facilities worldwide.
Thermo King is a division of Ingersoll-Rand. Founded in 1938, Thermo King operates 10 manufacturing facilities and 17 distribution centers worldwide.
Preliminary figures for December 2002 released by Georgia Dept. of Labor show the unemployment rate in Jefferson County at 9.0 percent, or 635 people unemployed. Revised figures for one year ago set the countywide unemployment rate at 903 percent.
Hundreds out sick; some schools closed
By Ben Nelms
The rash of influenza and related illnesses that have been responsible for school closures around Georgia led to the closure of Glascock County Consolidated School in Gibson on Feb. 5 and 6 and the closure of Thomas Jefferson Academy in Louisville on Jan. 30 and 31.
GCCS announced that classes would be suspended Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to get a hold on escalating absentee numbers.
The number of children sick grew last week to 128 absentees Monday and 148 on Tuesday, more than one-fourth of its enrollment of 565 students.
"I do hope the move will help," said Principal Sally Garrett. "We have so many out with flu and viruses that some of our high school classes had only two or three students present. We also have quite a number of faculty that are sick."
TJA Headmaster Chuck Wimberly said Monday the two-day closure came after 78 of the school's 250 students were ill Jan. 29. He said the decision was like a two-edged sword.
"You will always have a certain percentage of students that will be out," he said. "But when the numbers keep increasing you have to put a stop to it so you can get the sick ones well and keep the ones who aren't sick healthy."
Absences due to illness at the school rose from 35 on Jan. 27 to 48 on Jan. 28. The decision to close Thursday and Friday came after nearly one-third of students were absent Wednesday. The number of absences at TJA were listed at 45 on Monday and 36 on Tuesday.
Public schools around Jefferson County were also affected with flu-related absences, though not to the degree experienced at TJA.
The effects of flu and flu-related illnesses in Jefferson County's public schools appeared to peak between Jan. 24 and Jan. 31, with a far smaller percentage of students absent than experienced at GCCS or TJA. The exception to that trend occurred at Wrens Elementary School, where 83 students were either ill or went home sick Monday. That number had risen to 89 on Tuesday.
The trend of illness has affected a number of public and private schools throughout east central Georgia in recent weeks, forcing school closures as a way of combating high absentee rates.
Burns visits Gibson
• Congressman discussed issues with citizens in local diner
By Ben Nelms
Talk of local, state, national and international affairs at Usry's Diner in Gibson was ratcheted to a new level Jan. 30 as a group of Glascock County residents heard the thoughts and posed questions to newly elected US 12th District Congressman Max Burns.
"We've never had a congressman come here and sit down to talk with us," said Mitchell resident Etta Wilcher of the occasion.
Elected in November in the recently formed 12th US Congressional District, Burns referenced the state of the Union, Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime and answered questions from residents on healthcare, prescription medications and the need to keep Ft. Gordon open.
Burns said the goal of the United States in relation to the current status of affairs with Iraq is to resolve the issue without the use of force. The fundamental, twofold sticking point, he said, is that Iraq possesses Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Hussein is not trustworthy.
"I encourage everyone to have confidence in Pres. Bush and in the nation, said Burns. "The result of our efforts will be the disarmament of the Iraqi regime. I don't believe Iraq could deliver WMD on American soil but he could do so in the Middle East or he could provide those weapons to terrorists who might attempt to use them against us."
Burns said he had spoken with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell in the past week and remained confident in the approach being taken by the administration.
Several residents expressed concern over the increasing costs of prescription drugs and the cost of non-covered Medicaid expenses to families of the elderly.
Burns referenced the historic obstacles associated with passing healthcare-related legislation with so many different lawmakers vying for particular proposals combined with a healthcare system whose costs continue to escalate. He vowed to fight to gain control of a system that bears too heavily on Americans.
"I oppose nationalizing healthcare because we can't go into a system of rationing like some countries have," said Burns. "But there will be a prescription drug plan passed this year. It may not meet all the needs but it will be a start."
Burns also called for patent extensions on prescription drugs to be curtailed, thereby allowing greater number of generic drugs to be available for a reduced cost to consumers.
Addressing residents' questions about the necessity of keeping Ft. Gordon open, Burns said he and all Georgia representatives will work in tandem to insure that the state continues to be treated fairly and equitably during the next round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) talks scheduled for 2005. He said Ft. Gordon's mission remains important within the current emphasis on homeland defense and national security.