September 26, 2007 Edition

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Church worker
dies in accident

Gretchen Hunt

Three members of Southern Oaks Missionary Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, were involved in an accident on Thursday night while travelling to Alicia to work on the Alicia Baptist Church.

Amanda K. Barfield, 32 of Whitehouse, Texas, was killed when the vehicle she was riding in was hit head-on by a vehicle that was travelling the wrong direction on U.S. Hwy. 67, near Cabot.

According to Cpl. Stacy Sims of the Arkansas State Police, the accident occurred when a 2005 Chrysler 300, traveling southbound in the northbound lane, struck a northbound 1995 Toyota Camry. The Camry was then struck in the rear by a 2006 Dodge pickup truck, which was also traveling north.

The driver of the Chrysler, Candace J. Hazlett, 58, of Jacksonville, was also killed in the accident. Jacqueline Harris, 47, of Searcy, driver of the Dodge, and Bradley D. Jordan, 37, and William "Trey" H. Barfield III, 32, both of Whitehouse, Texas, were all seriously injured in the accident.

Jordan and the Barfields were part of a team from the Tyler church that was helping with construction of a new sanctuary for Alicia Baptist.

Monroe Baldwin, pastor of Alicia Baptist Church, said three vehicles were on their way from the Tyler area when the accident occurred.

The front vehicle was pulling the steeple for the new building and was the first to meet the car. According to Monroe's wife, Tammy, the driver of that vehicle, Norman Dickey, said he avoided the car and started to call 911, but saw a police officer approaching with blue lights on and assumed they were trying to stop the car. He said he did not realize the other two vehicles headed north from Texas were as close behind him as they were.

The second car in the convoy was driven by Bill Barfield. He saw the car coming and got out of the way only to look in his rear-view mirror and see the car hit head-on with the vehicle that was carrying his son and daughter-in-law.

Tammy said some individuals from the Tyler church were already in Alicia, including Dexter and Sue Jordan, parents of Bradley Jordan, who was driving the vehicle that was hit. Dexter has been heading up the project at Alicia.

"They had finished working and left for their motel around 11," Tammy said. "My husband said he felt a heavy burden on his heart, so he went to the altar to pray. They called us at 11:30 to tell us there had been a bad, bad accident."

Monroe went with Dexter and others to Little Rock, but several members of the Texas church remained to continue working, and Dickey continued on to Alicia with the new steeple.

A crew of seven worked over the weekend, with one main goal in mind - to raise the cross and steeple in Amanda's memory.

"They hauled and pulled and lifted it up to the top of the building," Tammy said. "Because she had lost her life on the trip up, they wanted to be sure that was done and to make sure that the cross was raised in Alicia again."

Monroe said the steeple is the only one in Alicia and that it and the cross are very important.

"It's a sign of hope to a community that hasn't seen a lot of hope," Tammy said, adding that Alicia has been plagued with poverty and drug problems.

She said the response the church has received since the building project began has been overwhelming. She said individuals who were professed atheists or mocked those who attended the church have been saved.

According to Tammy many lives have been changed during the process.

In addition, several local churches have helped with the project, including ones from different denominations. Tammy said that when the crew from Tyler returned home, they began receiving calls from other churches, as well.

"Prayer banners have been erected," she said. "They've had multiple calls offering donations and people wanting to come and help finish the church."

The Baldwins said they have been told that in a couple of weeks people will begin arriving in shifts.

"They want to complete the project," Tammy said. "It's been an amazing thing."

Funeral arrangements for Amanda are on hold until Trey is released from the hospital. The couple have a seven-year-old daughter, Kaylee. On Tuesday, Monroe and Tammy visited Trey, who is still in ICU.

"This young man who has lost his wife looks at me and says he wants to come and help finish the church," Tammy said. "Faith in the Lord is the only way you can get to that place."

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