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Authorities are investigating a suspicious envelope delivered to a Maiden church where a pastor made controversial anti-gay comments last month.
Providence Road Baptist Church received an envelope filled with an unidentified white substance, said Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid.
A male church staff member opened the envelope, and the white substance fell onto a desk, Reid said, adding that church pastor Charles Worley did not open the envelope.
Worley ignited a national controversy and sparked a Newton protest last month when he suggested placing homosexual citizens in an electrified fence to kill them.
The male church member who opened the envelope called Maiden Fire Department at about 9:01 a.m., said Jim Dickerson, acting Public Information Officer for Catawba County.
â€œHe noticed a substance â€“ a powdery substance," Dickerson said. â€œThat staff person was by themselves in the church. He was instructed to keep everything in the church secured until emergency personnel arrived."
Dickerson said the staff member was decontaminated and rushed to a local hospital.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Catawba County Sheriff's Office, a hazardous materials team and Conover and Maiden fire department crews are at the church investigating the envelope.
As of noon Monday, Dickerson said it is still unclear what the substance is.
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