A delegation of Church of God leaders, including General overseer Raymond F. Culpepper, traveled to Alabama on Friday to meet at the Alabama state office leadership to determine a relief plan for churches and parsonages damaged or destroyed by a line of tornadoes that ripped through the South on Wednesday.
An unprecedented number of tornadoes dotted the weather map making the 36-40 hour period one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Alabama was hit hardest by the outbreak.
The Church of God was not spared as many churches, parsonages and members’ homes and businesses were destroyed or heavily damaged, particularly in the states of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. However, damage was reported in other states.
Two states, however, were extremely blessed. According to Mississippi state overseer Joe Mirkovicjh, the churches and parsonages in the state, “dodged a bullet.” In South Georgia, Bishop Ray Garner reported “no major damages or injuries.”
In Virginia the Glade Springs Church of God was totally destroyed, but no other known damages were reported at this time.
The majority of the churches in North Georgia suffered no major damage in spite of the surrounding devastation. Others were not so fortunate: In Griffin two family members were lost in the storm. In Madison, Ga., the church lost its steeple and other minor damage. In Trenton it is reported the “city is a war zone” but most of the damage to the church seems to be minor. In Ringgold crews cannot get into the area to assess damage, but is possibly the most severely damaged area of the state.
As of today, Bishop Donald Walker of Tennessee had not heard of any damages, injuries, or fatalities from District Overseers or pastors.
Several damages were reported by employees of the Church of God International Offices. Because of the devastation in Cleveland, the offices were closed for a second straight day. Some of the reported damages included the following:
• Tammy Henkel (daughter of Nellie Keasling) lost her home
• Joe Leddon had the deck to fall on his car, trees down, house damage
• Melody Goodwin had trees on the roof with severe damage in the house
• Bill and Joy Claypoole had house damage
• Mike Kirkpatrick had severe damage to his home and vehicles
• Brian Farris had a tree to fall on roof and deck
• Steve Holder had a tree to fall on a rental home and has serious damage
• Shirley Carr had a tree uprooted and it fell on the garage
• Joe Ingram had the roof taken off of a storage building
• Pat Lynch had roof and structural damage and windows out
• Terry and Ora Hart and Mike McDonald had trees down
• Several employees had minor damages and extended power outage
One of the first actions taken when the tragedy struck was the establishment of a special emergency fund through Church of God World Missions. Giving can be directed to tornado relief by noting the project number 765-0047.
SPECIAL UPDATE: North Georgia Reports Four Tornado-Related Deaths
April 30, 2011—Church of God North Georgia Administrative Bishop Michael Baker has released the following statement regarding the tragic tornadoes that struck the south Wednesday:
“An overall evaluation has been done, and there are many reasons for thanksgiving. Tragically, of the nine fatalities in the state of Georgia, four were Church of God members or attendees. At this time, the state is concentrating on the major damages. Response teams have been set up by God’s Pit Crew (from Virginia) and Operation Compassion. The networking of local churches and response groups across North Georgia has been tremendous.”
“ Distributions centers have been set up in Griffin, Cartersville, Trenton, and a few other areas. The city of Ringgold says they have sufficient help (the city made national news and response was quick from many sources). The much smaller town of Trenton still has need for emergency assistance and cleanup crews. The Trenton Church of God is presently serving as the temporary morgue, as well as a distribution center. They especially need diapers and baby food.”
General Overseer Dr. Raymond Culpepper and First Assistant General Overseer Dr. Tim Hill toured the damage in Alabama, North Georgia and Tennessee and met with state leaders and affected pastors.
A video crew accompanied the Executive Committee delegation as they surveyed the damage. Please visit the Church of God Web site (www.churchofgod.org) and click on the special graphic which will direct you to the footage.
A special emergency fund has been established through Church of God World Missions (www.cogwm.org) to aid the affected congregations. Giving can be directed to tornado relief by noting the project number 765-0047.
Please keep in prayer the many churches, families, and individuals that have been affected by this unprecedented tragedy. Faith News will continue to post updates as warranted.
Faith News will report further news as it becomes available.