Church Offers Sanctuary to Ebola-Fearful Knoxvillians

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While local health systems plan a forum to answer the public’s questions about the Ebola virus, a Knoxville church is offering sanctuary to people most afraid of contracting the deadly virus.

Ebola has yet to spread to East Tennessee — and may never get here — but Grace Baptist Church, 7171 Oak Ridge Highway, will open its doors to people most fearful of contracting the disease.

“We know the fear is real, and we believe it’s just a matter of time before Ebola rears its head here,” said Ron Stewart, senior pastor of the Karns megachurch. “We’re not facing an End Times scenario just yet, but this disease could be the beginning of the end.”

In preparing to offer sanctuary, the church has converted a number of Grace Christian School classrooms into dormitory style rooms, complete with bunk beds, dressers and small writing tables. Anyone who seeks sanctuary at the church will be fitted for their own Personal Protective Equipment, the impermeable gear used by medical personnel in Atlanta, Dallas and Africa to shield them from exposure to the virus.

“We’ve undertaken considerable expense to prepare for this, but peace of mind and saving lives will be worth it,” Stewart said.