Pastors and Churches Reach Out to Devastated Neighbors After Tennessee Tornadoes

The building of First Baptist Church of Mount Juliet, Tenn., sustained significant damage in a tornado early March 3. An elderly couple who were longtime members of the church are among the dead, their pastor Phillip Dunn told Baptist Press hours after the storm passed. Submitted photo

NASHVILLE (BP) — Pastors shared hope and faith in the midst of death and destruction early Tuesday (March 3) just after a series of tornadoes tore through middle Tennessee, killing at least 22 and heavily damaging businesses, homes and at least two Southern Baptist churches.

An elderly couple who were longtime members of First Baptist Church of Mount Juliet in Wilson County are among the dead, their pastor Phillip Dunn told Baptist Press hours after the storm passed, heavily damaging the church campus.

“We do know we’ve had the loss of at least one couple that did not make it through the tornado,” Dunn told BP. “And we have other church family that are assessing their own property damage, that have lost a home, so we’re mindful of them. And then with our facility, a good portion has been touched and damaged; we’re kind of in the direct line.”

In Putnam County, where at least 16 people died, an associate pastor praised God for the “miracle” that spared him and his family, Stone Association Director of Missions Mark Davis told Baptist Press Tuesday.

“One of our associate pastors told the story this morning … that it’s a miracle” he and his family are alive, Davis told BP. “They were right in the center of the tornado.” Associate Pastor Darrin Crockett of Vinebranch Community Church in Cookeville was digging through debris that remained from his home, David said, and was not available to talk with BP.

Deaths were also reported in Benton and Davidson counties.

In Nashville, the tornado tore the roof from the Nashville Baptist Association (NBA), causing rain and wind damage inside the building. At least one church in Nashville, The Church at Lockeland Springs, was heavily damaged, said Rusty Sumrall, NBA director of missions.

“I put a call out to all the other churches, and I’ve called most the churches that I was aware was in the path,” Sumrall said, “and I haven’t heard of any other church that had major damage.”

Disaster relief teams were being assembled as early as the storms cleared, associational and mission leaders said; and church members in several communities were helping families and churches in need, pastors told BP.

Green Hill Baptist Church in north Mount Juliet fared well during the storm, pastor Daryl Crouch told BP, and is among those assembling volunteers to help others.

“Because we have power — we know a lot of folks don’t — we’ve opened our buildings the next three days for folks to come,” Crouch said. “There’s work space, to recharge their devices, to get free coffee and snacks. … We’ve been in contact with a lot of other pastors in our town.”

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Source: Baptist Press