Parishioners in tornado-ravaged towns across the south prayed for help Sunday – many in the open air outside churches leveled by the deadly storms.
According to a story by Lukas Alpert for the New York Daily News, the devastating wave of twisters was indiscriminate in its destruction. It toppled churches at the heart of communities as well as thousands of homes throughout the region.
However, church leaders were determined to gather. “This service is our response to tragedy. It shows that we are not victims. We are victors. We are visible victors,” said Pastor T.L. Lewis, who led a flock of 5,000 outside the remains of Bethel Baptist Church in Pratt City, Ala.
The New York Daily News said in Smithville, Miss., parishioners gathered under a tent in the parking lot outside the demolished Smithville Baptist Church.
Calling it “Resurrection Sunday,” church leaders led prayers before a stain glass window of Jesus with outstretched arms – one of the only parts of the church to survive the storm.
The New York Daily News said in Greenville, Tenn., churchgoers looked up at the heavens through the torn-off roof of the Unity Chapel Church.
“One way or another, we’re going to keep going forward,” said Deacon Calvin Thomas, at the heavily damaged Victory Baptist Church in Rainsville, Ala.
The New York Daily News reported that at least 342 people were killed across seven states in Wednesday’s vicious storm. Search operations continue through hundreds of communities.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, all visited the hard-hit region Sunday, the newspaper reported.
President Obama visited Alabama on Friday to take a look at the damage caused by the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 destroyed New Orleans.