At a prayer meeting last year at Missionary Baptist Church in Carlisle, Iowa, Kenny McCaughey asked fellow members to petition God on behalf of his wife, Bobbi, that fertility therapy would be effective. Upon learning that the prayers for his wife to conceive had been answered sevenfold, McCaughey turned to pastor Robert J. Brown with questions on how he could handle such a brood. Brown prayed that God would be glorified by whatever happened.

Since that time, life has not been the same for the McCaugheys, Brown, or Missionary Baptist Church. The birth of the world's first surviving septuplets on November 19, 1997, changed the dynamics of the church immensely. Besides living through periods of intense media scrutiny, the 100-member congregation has rallied to become a model of what the church is designed to be: a support in time of need, even if the circumstances are overwhelming.

"When Bobbi and Kenny found out they were expecting seven, we said, 'You don't have to do this by yourselves,' " says Brown, 49. "The response from families in the church has been to commit ourselves to do anything we can do, no matter how long the haul may be."

Preparation began long before Kenneth, Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Brandon, Nathan, and Joel came into the world. Church members began bringing meals three times a week when a doctor ordered bed rest for Bobbi McCaughey in her ninth week of pregnancy—21 weeks before delivery. There have been 70 volunteers from their church to aid in caring for the septuplets—and their two-year-old sister, Mikayla—as well as in cleaning the home and preparing meals. Many on-site helpers take one shift a week, ranging from four hours in the morning to eight hours overnight.

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