Suspicious white powder in Utah mail
November 2001

First Samoan United Congregational Christian UCC of Magna, Utah, is the first UCC church to be quarantined after receiving mail on Oct. 24 that contained a white powder. The pastor, the Rev. Sai Tafaoialii, was put on antibiotics while waiting test results as to whether the substance contained anthrax spores.

Magna (pop. 18,000) is located 12 miles west of Salt Lake City.

Recently Tafaoialii had been doing television fund raising for area fire departments. According to the Rev. Kenneth Leischner, Rocky Mountain Conference Minister, it is not known whether this incident is related to September 11 or if it may be racially based.

Leischner advised Rocky Mountain churches to be extremely careful with all mail they receive. "The UCC and its congregations," he wrote, "because of the willingness we have to speak out for the marginalized and the outcast, are inviting targets to those who think anything alien is suspect or a target."

On Tuesday morning, Oct. 16, white powder also was discovered in the UCC's national offices in Cleveland. FBI tests later determined that the incident was a hoax.

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