Worshiping Through the Storm: How Town Devastated by Tornado Is Holding onto Hope

  • Maina Mwaura CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor
  • Updated Mar 11, 2019
Worshiping Through the Storm: How Town Devastated by Tornado Is Holding onto Hope

It’s a typical Sunday morning for Powell Missionary Baptist Church. The choir is in place, the ushers are pointing people in the right direction and the mood of the congregation is just as upbeat as its young Pastor Vinton Copeland, who exudes with love and enthusiasm for his people.

The feeling is mutual from the congregation, who seems to not only to like but deeply respect and love their pastor. There's only one thing out of place and that's what's happening outside of the church in the small town of Talbotton, Georgia. 

According to the National Weather Service, this small town endured a category EF-3 tornado last Sunday after church. 

"I had just left the church and was visiting family members, when all of a sudden a roaring sound came out of nowhere," Copeland shared. 

He would realize later that he had experienced the worst tornado to come through the small town that he was born and raised in. Copeland can remember walking out of the family member’s house that he was visiting, to sirens and people crying, not knowing what to do next. 

"It looked like a war zone, as the rain was still coming down,” the pastor said. 

Fast forward to this past Sunday. It is night and day compared to the trauma that the people of Powell Missionary had gone through. By the energy in the room, you wouldn't know that an EF-3 tornado had touched down a week ago. 

If one were to walk into Powell Missionary Baptist Church, they would see how the members love each other and the guests who come to visit. When I visited the Georgia-based church I was welcomed by the choir enthusiastically singing "God, made a way” and then by member Willie George Epps’s testimony which highlighted this truth. Epps told the congregation about how God had prepared him before the tornado by waking him up in the middle of the night to pray for the last two weeks. 

Epps said, "When I look back, God was preparing me for the tornado that destroyed my home.”

What's amazing about Willie is that one wouldn't know the trauma he endured from the sound of his grateful spirit. Willie was very clear when sharing with the congregation that even though he had lost his house, he was still thankful. 

Pastor Copeland then shared a Sunday morning message that was full of both hope and mourning as Copeland told his parishioners that it was okay to wonder why their homes were destroyed but their neighbors’ homes were spared. 

"Sometimes, you have to allow people to sit and grieve," Copeland – who has been at the church every day for the last week to collect items and minister to people in their time of need – said. The Bible verse that has ministered to Copeland during this time of tragedy is John 13 – when Jesus is washing the feet of the disciples and serving them. 

He said, "I want to make sure that I have the towel in my mind.” 

Copeland said that when he thinks about how he can minister to the community, he believes it is through serving them and helping them through the trauma they've experienced. Although many in the community don't know what will happen next, no matter what happens Powell Missionary Baptist Church will be finding themselves worshiping, even if the outside of the building isn't. 

From the beginning prayer to the music to the sermon to the benediction, Powell Missionary Baptist Church believes that the same God who created the storm is the same God that will guide them in putting their town back together again.

Photo courtesy: Pixabay

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