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'God Is with You and Jesus Is Alive': Tornado-Struck Churches Hold Easter Services Across South

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Even though a tornadic storm roared through several communities and destroyed their church buildings a couple of weeks ago, that hasn't stopped the members of several congregations from worshipping God. 

The National Weather Service gave the tornado that struck Arkansas a preliminary rating of EF-3 with maximum winds of 165 miles-per-hour.

One congregation located near Little Rock, Arkansas, has continued to meet together outside for worship services, and Easter Sunday was no exception. 

Fox Weather reports members of the New Commandment Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Jacksonville have been holding services since Palm Sunday, with folding chairs set up near the parking lot and a choir singing on the church's concrete steps.  

Eddie Miller, the church's pastor told the outlet it's been a very trying time for the church and the community. 

"We have been through a lot, the members have been through a lot, the community has been through a lot, but we have banded together," he said. 

"Our church is still standing strong in the community because our church is a light to this community, and we dare not be somewhere else," Miller said. 

The pastor added that people who don't typically attend the Arkansas church even came out to be a part of its services.

"We want them to know this church is going to stand strong in the midst of this turmoil," Miller told Fox. "We will get through that because we'll continue to serve and do the things we've been doing."

slider img 2WREG-TV reports just about 94 miles to the northeast of Jacksonville is the town of Wynne, where four people were killed and dozens were injured by a tornado.  

Pastor Matt Carter of the Wynne First United Methodist Church told the outlet about the sudden transformation of their church building by the storm. It was a building being used by a thriving congregation, and in a matter of minutes, it was changed into a damaged ruin. But Carter explained to WREG the work of the congregation goes on. 

"We've lost a building…but it is just a building. We're still the church and we still have a calling that Christ has given us to go and fulfill," Carter said. "The sanctuary is the building that we know for a fact we're going to lose. It's already been condemned. It's scheduled to come down later next week. We're currently evaluating the rest of the buildings on campus to see if they can be saved."

"Easter Morning is about celebrating that Jesus Christ didn't stay in the tomb," Carter continued. "We can follow the example of Jesus Christ and we can rise from the death. We can rise from the destruction and we can go because we have a mission and a ministry."

The Wynne church held its Easter services at the local Knights of Columbus meeting hall. But its members will always remember what the congregation has meant to them and their families. 

"This has been my home church and this is where I look to find my place of peace on Sunday mornings," Tyler Griffin, a church trustee told WREG-TV

In a Facebook post, David Russell Owens said he attended Easter services at the Waypoint Baptist Church in Bartlett, TN, but had the Wynne church on his mind. He reminded others that it's the people who make up the church, and they are more than just a building made of earthly materials. He included a photo of the damaged Wynne FUMC building with a cross made of flowers placed near a storm-damaged tree. 

"Two young girls sang a closing song I didn't know, 'Sunday Sermons' by Anne Wilson. As I listened to the words, I couldn't help but think of First United Methodist Church in Wynne, who despite significant damage to their building during the March 31 tornado continued to meet just two days later in their parking lot. I read on KAIT they were able to move today's services to the Knights of Columbus Hall," he wrote. 

"After all, it's the people that make up the church. Not brick, mortar, and wood. FUMC will build back, as will the rest of our community and show the world that we are #WynneStrong," Owens continued. 

"Devil gon' try and take me out of that church, But you can't take the church out of me," he concluded. 

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Meanwhile, in Morris Chapel, Tennessee, the Morris Chapel United Methodist Church was telling its congregation on social media that Easter services would be held at the town's community center and to bring canned goods to help those affected by the recent tornado. 

The church also shared a photo of an open Bible still in place at the podium in the church's sanctuary.  During the storm, a banner that was located behind the altar, covered the altar, protecting the Bible during the storm. 

"Remember God is with you and Jesus is alive," the church's Facebook post said. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of