Deadly Twisters Cut Easter Celebrations Short Across South
By Carl Stagner
Celebrations of Easter quickly dissipated as severe weather overtook much of the South on Sunday into Monday, from Texas to the North Carolina coast. Noted by national media outlets as the deadliest tornado outbreak in six years, the catastrophe claimed at least thirty-four lives and left hundreds of homes, businesses, and churches damaged or destroyed. While lives were spared among our Church of God congregations, several of their facilities and homes did not escape the storms’ wrath. Even as reports continue to come in and cleanup is underway, the Church of God in Mississippi is extending opportunities to the Church of God beyond to prayerfully and financially support their life-giving efforts in the midst of the mess.
“Easter 2020 will not soon be forgotten here in Mississippi,” Keith Hall, regional pastor for Mississippi Ministries of the Church of God, explains. “Soon after we had our COVID-19 modified services in various forms, some of our churches and church families would experience the destructive forces of multiple tornadoes.”
Among the churches in the path of the storms, Mississippi Ministries made contact with eight and visited four. On-the-ground assessments were completed at East 10th Street Church of God and First Church of God in Laurel, Moss First Church of God in Moss, and Zion Community Church of God in Oak Vale.
Laurel’s East 10th Street appeared to have been spared structural damage, but First Church suffered minor roof damage. Three First Church families suffered damage to their homes; one, a total loss. The Most First Church building was spared by the tornadoes, but six families lost their homes and one individual’s injuries required hospitalization. Of the Mississippi Churches of God affected by the severe weather, the greatest impact could be felt on the family of faith known as Zion Community. There the roof over the sanctuary collapsed in several places, windows were shattered, and the front porch was ripped from the rest of the building. A fallen tree brought serious damage to Pastor Isaac Carter’s house, and Pastor Bettie Drummond’s home was blown off its foundation as she and her husband huddled in a small interior corridor barely left intact.
Volunteers from local churches responded quickly, including Pine Grove Church of God in Edinburg, as well as Moss First Church, where Pastor Paul Matte has opened the building as a FEMA disaster recovery station. Debris cleanup is the initial focus as power outages persist, but displaced residents and the need for rebuilding pose long-term challenges to our Church of God family scattered across the South.
Church of God Ministries has approved the release of funds for immediate disaster relief in Mississippi. Would you join us with your generous donation today? Send checks to Mississippi Ministries of the Church of God, PO Box 1276, Philadelphia, MS 39350 or donate online through their Faithlife giving platform at https://faithlife.com/mmotcog-ms/give; first click Add or change funds, then click the drop-down select a fund option, choose Disaster Relief Fund, and enter your desired donation amount.
Please remember that the possibility of work teams is affected by current COVID-19 restrictions. For more information, contact Mississippi Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-562-4646. Thank you for your prayerful and financial support.