After the Storm - Stories of Help and Hope
Lakeview UMC gathers for joyful worship in new facility
Almost fifteen months after their church building was destroyed by a tornado, Lakeview UMC in Athens gathered for a joyful time of worship in their new facility on Sunday morning, July 15, 2012.
Lakeview UMC was one of approximately two dozen churches throughout North Alabama that was damaged or destroyed by the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
During the time since the storms, the Lakeview congregation has traveled a long and difficult road, but this Sunday was filled with worship,...
Littleville UMC pastor faces tragedy, continually gives back
Rev. Scott Ward is the pastor of Littleville UMC in the Northwest District, located northwest of the Town of Haleyville. Just 15 miles away, the town of Phil Campbell took a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado on April 27, 2011. On that dark day, Ward’s mother-in-law, Renee Berry, died during the storm.
Two of Ward’s family members were injured. His sister-in-law, Amanda Johns, survived the tornado while five months pregnant. His brother-in-law sustained significant...
From horror to hope - A year's journey through disaster
April 27, 2011 is not a day I want to remember. I have struggled mightily for days now with what to write in this article. I want to forget. I want to pretend it never happened. I only had one tree in my house, was scared out of my wits by the sounds I endured, and thought I was going to die. How must people feel that lost loved ones? Or those whose houses were ripped out from around them in just a matter of seconds? Or those who were tossed about and somehow survived? How must they feel...
New Church in Tuscaloosa focuses on resurrection amidst tragedy
Through research and prayer, the North Alabama Conference New Church Team and Cabinet discerned the need for a new United Methodist congregation in Tuscaloosa. As they were beginning to organize for the endeavor in the spring of 2011, the April 27 tornadoes hit. Following the tornadoes and all their destruction, it became apparent that the new church would need to address both the growing population as well as the rebuilding and restoration efforts of the community.
Hackleburg home is music to family's ears
Tommy Quinn is not your typical college student. He is attending classes to become a piano tuner, a career so specialized, you find few around. Quinn is also a self-taught organ player.
A few days before April 27, 2011, Quinn had been filming many of his surroundings, including his family home, a home which would be lost on April 27 to an EF-5 tornado which devastated the town of Hackleburg.
Only six days later, Tommy returned to his music classes at Northwest Shoals...
Biloxi volunteers head to Alabama to pay it forward
As soon as Easter services ended at Leggett Memorial United Methodist Church in Biloxi, five people loaded a van and headed to Alabama. they're on a mission to rebuild tornado damaged home, and restore a community's faith.
The picturesque grounds next to Leggett Memorial United Methodist Church didn't always look like so pristine. They came back to life after volunteers from places like Pleasant Grove, Alabama rebuilt what Katrina destroyed.
Farmville students relish experiences of mission trip for disaster recovery
Jeff Postans and his team from Farmville Wesley Campus Ministry in Farmville, Virginia, served in the Mountain Lakes District, along with Rev. Marvin McCormick, Construction Coordinator for the North Alabama Conference Disaster Recovery Team. The students spent their spring break serving storm survivors in the Guntersville area. The following is his summary of the trip to Alabama.
Finding the right words to describe this mission are difficult. The ones that come to mind are...
Cullman First UMC to celebrate the reopening of Sanctuary building on March 18
On Sunday, March 18, 2012, the congregation of Cullman First UMC will gather for worship in its Sanctuary for the first time since April 27, 2011, when a tornado caused major damage to the historic sanctuary and other parts of the church building. The storm destroyed the roof, blew out the stained glass windows and caused other major damage.
Senior pastor Rev. Mitchell Williams and other church leaders expect an exciting, energetic and emotional time of worship on Sunday when both...
Pastor shares testimony of early response efforts
Rev. Mike Butler is the pastor at Fairview UMC in Cullman. He also serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for Central District Disaster Recovery, coordinating UMCOR volunteers working through the North Alabama Conference in the Northern Walker County area, as well as assisting with the Walker County Long Term Recovery Committee. He sent the following email in May to pastors and partners to inform them of early response efforts in the North Alabama Conference and in his area. We...
Restore Sipsey cooperative to host dedication for completed homes
On Sunday, November 13, Restore Sipsey will celebrate the completion of two rebuilt homes with a dedication for the homeowners.
The town of Sipsey lies in the heart of Walker County and grew from a coal mining community. A town of approximately 160 households, it is plagued by high unemployment.
In April 2011, Sipsey received a direct hit from an EF-4 tornado, which destroyed 65 homes.
Dr. Donnie Cantley, a member of Riverchase UMC, visited Sipsey in early May and...
The Power of Connection
As coordinator of Disaster Recovery for the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, I could write any number of stories of survival and heroism during the April 27 tornado outbreak in Alabama.
It has been an amazing time of strength and courage on the part of the people of Alabama. As a United Methodist clergyperson who has a unique perspective on this tragedy, it has been the power of our United Methodist connectional system that has been so impressive to...
Partnership with locally organized volunteers allows greater impact in Pleasant Grove
The town of Pleasant Grove was hit by an EF-4 tornado on the afternoon of April 27, 2011, damaging or destroying an estimated 2,500 homes. The tornado sustained winds of 190 miles per hour and traveled nearly 81 miles with a path 1.5 miles wide.
Much work is needed to rebuild Pleasant Grove.
A volunteer effort called the Locally Organized Volunteer Effort was formed to begin the work of recovery in Pleasant Grove (LOVE) under the leadership of Gorden Thomason, a member of Oak...
Six months later, rebuilding in full swing in North Alabama due to the help of gracious volunteers
Over the years, the North Alabama Conference Disaster Response Team had trained, prepared and responded to disasters such as tornadoes. Team members were ready to respond and a Disaster Response Plan was in place. However, no plan could anticipate 62 tornadoes in one day.
Yet from the first moments after each storm, United Methodists were in action. During the first few weeks following April 27 storms, more than 70 early response teams from in-state and out-of-state immediately...
Guin storm survivors receive assistance from college students on alternative fall break
The Harris family relocated to the town of Guin earlier this summer after tragedy struck their family. They thought they had survived the April 27 storms with no damage, only debris in the yard and loss of electricity.
Two days later when electricity was restored, a power surge ignited a fire, which destroyed their home. All five family members survived, but not without injury.
Lily, the nine-year-old granddaughter of Tim and Belinda Harris, suffered severe third degree burns on 75...
Huntsville youth minister puts eccentric pastime to use for storm survivors in Tuscaloosa and Phil Campbell
What does an ultrarunner do to help survivors in the event of an epic tornado outbreak in his home state? In the case of one Huntsvillian, he trains to run the length of the state.
John Nevels, full-time engineer and part-time youth minister at Holmes Street UMC in Huntsville, will run 454 miles from Gulf Shores to Ardmore in ten days, beginning October 22, 2011. The epic run, entitled the Alabama Relief Run, will highlight Tuscaloosa, Hackleburg, Phil Campbell, Moulton and Harvest – all...
Hulaco local pastor watches lives change during rebuilding from April storms
With a Management in Information Systems degree in one pocket and a background in construction, Rev. Keith Monk began his career as a part-time local pastor with Pleasant Grove UMC in Hulaco, Ala., on Easter Sunday in 2010. To focus on his ministry, he left his construction business behind.
On April 27, 2011, the sparsely populated town of Hulaco was struck by an EF-4 tornado with a path one-mile wide with sustained winds of 190 miles per hour. The storm left a trail nearly 47 miles long from...
Forest Lake UMC to premiere anthem inspired by April 27 tornado
Six months before the April 27 tornado, composer K. Lee Scott was commissioned to write an anthem for Forest Lake United Methodist Church. However, his inspiration failed to ignite the right composition until the April storms wreaked havoc on the community surrounding the church. Almost immediately, Scott began penning “God Is Our Refuge and Strength,” a piece based on Psalm 46.
Forest Lake UMC will premiere the commissioned piece to commemorate the six-month anniversary...
Significant UMCOR grant will help North Alabama Disaster Recovery make a difference in many lives
Immediately following the work of early response teams, the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church installed a Disaster Recovery Team to enable families with financial difficulties to rebuild their homes to a safe and secure status from the disaster of the April 27 tornadoes. In order to assist the work already in motion, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Board of Directors approved a two-year $1 million recovery grant for the Conference’s efforts.
UMCOR gives $1 million for Alabama tornadoes
At the end of April, Alabama residents were stunned by a record 62 tornadoes that killed 250 people and left homes, businesses and municipalities in tatters.
All but two of those tornados touched down somewhere in the United Methodist North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference. This week, directors of the United Methodist Committee on Relief approved a $1 million grant to that conference to assist in the state’s recovery.funds had been low earlier in the year, particularly for U.S....
Teams from neighboring states collaborate in Tuscaloosa for Disaster Recovery
Teams from states surrounding the State of Alabama have been traveling to Tuscaloosa to assist the Southwest District Disaster Recovery Team’s work in the neighborhood of Forest Lake. For one resident, these teams have made a world of difference beyond what they ever imagined.
The teams worked on the home of Ms. Betty Lake, who in the span of two years lost her brother, her husband and fell victim to the tornado. Since her husband’s death, she has been unable to afford the...