Dallas church welcomes back fiancée of Ebola victim

DALLAS - A WFAA News 8 camera got just a glimpse of Louise Troh as she and her family took a side entrance into Wilshire Baptist Church Sunday morning. It was their first day attending services since coming out of quarantine.

Senior Pastor George Mason wasted no time in announcing her arrival just minutes after he greeted the rest of the congregation, visitors and even the media.

"Hello Louise," he said while flashing a wide smile. "Welcome back to Wilshire."

For 21 days, Troh's family was shut off from everyone before and after her fiancé Thomas Eric Duncan died of Ebola. They lived in a borrowed home in Oak Cliff. To some people, Troh and her family were considered untouchables -- potential carriers of a contagious and deadly disease.

Their church family was among the few outsiders who didn't shun them.

"She may be the most hugged person in Dallas today," said Associate Pastor Mark Wingfield.

Services started with a special group hug. The only embrace church members could give Troh while she was in quarantine was by crossing their arms and hands across their own chests mimicking a real hug.

"This is what we would do," Pastor Mason said, demonstrating from the pulpit. "We would just hug like this."

The special hug was offered today, not to avoid touching Troh, but to avoid overwhelming her with too much affection. Pastor Mason pointed out that there is only one Louise, but many congregation members who were eager to physically embrace her.

"So, if you would like to stand and turn and face that woman over there and give her a hug, I think that would be really nice," he said. Immediately the entire congregation stood, turned toward the back corner of the church where Troh sat and made the hugging gesture.

Throughout her ordeal, the church has helped Troh and her family deal with all the media attention, but Sunday signs were posted asking reporters to keep cameras and mobile devices outside. It was a clear sign the church is ready to move on and help Troh do the same.

"We're happy to be a part of this welcoming community," said Carl Bell, who along with his wife expressed pride that their church had taken a leadership role during the Ebola crisis.

Further showing a spirit of inclusiveness, Troh's daughter joined the church Sunday. Pastor Mason congratulated her. He also assured her that along with the city, church leaders will continue to try and help her mother find a new home.

Mason said there have been some challenges, but they have leads on new place they hope to check out this week.


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