Pastors praying as politicians ponder insurance problem

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi's First Missionary Baptist Church has been around 165 years. After Katrina damaged their original sanctuary, they rebuilt a new, beautiful facility.

However, problems with insurance claims forced the church to take out a steep loan to pay for the construction.

"It was bad. It was rough. We've come a long way and that's the Lord's Blessing. We've got us a beautiful church and we love it and a lot of members are pulling together, and you hope we pull together and get it paid for. The only thing hurting us now is the insurance and all that," said church member Robert Brown who has attended the church since he was a young boy.

"The building we had received damage, approximately well over $600,000. But, when we received the coverage it was nowhere near the amount we had invested into insurance. It was less than 20 percent," said the church's pastor Eric Dickey.  "Now we're having to have a high cost in mortgage and turn around and pay a high cost in insurance."

This church isn't alone. Struggling with high insurance rates was a story told again and again by a group of Baptist churches who met with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.

"It's just heart wrenching. You've got pastors here that are having to choose between their missions and having insurance. You've got some that are uninsured," said Bryant.

"The solution is to work together, not be an individual and try to weather the storm, but to work together. And, historically that's been a problem with some congregations," said Chaney.

Baptist churches are autonomous which means they work individually.  However, with so many sharing the same problem, these state officials believe there's power in numbers.

"If they form a larger group, then it's supply and demand. The rates will go down," said Bryant.

Officials were quick to point out that one meeting certainly won't solve this complex issue.  However, it is a step in the right direction.

Now, the churches are planning to form a committee to look at all the insurance options, and hopefully find a solution that helps everyone.

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