News and Tribune

September 21, 2013

New beginning for church destroyed in 2012 tornado

Dedication coming Sunday afternoon

By Janelle MacDonald
News partner WAVE 3 News

HENRYVILLE — For many families, heading off to church on Sunday mornings is something that’s so routine, it’s almost taken for granted.

But it’s different for a congregation in a town that a tornado tore apart, which is celebrating the simple joy of having a building to go to.

For Helen Hunt, Marysville Christian Church was a landmark of her town.

“I’ve lived out here for going on 24 years, and for 23 years, I drove by the old building when they were having church and I would always try to beat them out of the service to get to the grocery store before they did,” Hunt said. “I always said, ‘someday I’ll go in that church.’”

Until the day that landmark became the center of the destruction.

“March 2nd [2012] came and I had never stepped foot in that building,” said Hunt.

The Rev. Bob Priest remembers that day.

“Several of the stained glass windows had been shattered and the building had actually shifted and slipped off its foundation,” Priest said of the damage to the church.

What Priest remembers most though, was the promise.

“Flashing red lights, destruction everywhere and then I looked to the west and the sun was setting through the clouds and that was an unusual feeling because it sort of said to me, OK, it’s bad right now but it will be better tomorrow,” said Priest.

The church’s tomorrow was no longer tied to the building that had housed it since 1891.

“We met on [March] 11th at the firehouse,” Priest said, “had a big crowd that Sunday as I recall.”

“My husband Dewey and I we went that first Sunday on March 11th,” said Hunt.

For 17 months, Hunt and her new church family grew at that fire station. Many needed spiritual guidance to get through the trying time.

“That’s why we went and why we’ve continued to go ever since,” Hunt said.

This coming Sunday, the members of the congregation will dedicate their new church building.

“It’s back in the town of Marysville, where it’s supposed to be,” said Hunt. “We are where we belong here in Marysville and to be able to overcome the struggle of the 17 months that it took to get back to this place, it’s nothing short of amazing.”

“There’s a lot of new things in here, but there’s some of the old as well,” Priest said.

The old church bell rings from a new steeple, sending a message that Hunt hopes all will hear.

“To have faith,” said Hunt. “No matter what life throws at you, just have faith.”

The dedication for Marysville Christian Church will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at the new building on Marysville Road, right in the shadow of the water tower.