Pastor Allen Murphy says a church is not a building, it's the body of members. He says the building is ruined but the church will go on.
Sunday, members of the Mamre Baptist Church in Wellington met inside their heavily damaged sanctuary to hold Sunday services. The church is located off Highway 431 in Calhoun County, near the Glencoe city limits.
Wednesday's system of tornadoes gave both Mamre church buildings a direct hit. The fellowship hall was flattened, with people trapped in the basement. They had gone there for shelter. Spencer Motes was killed, and several others injured.
One of the injured, Alexandria teenager Leann Hicks, recalls the collapse. Her family sought shelter after hearing the tornadoes were coming their way.
"There was about ten people, and we all started praying," she recalled, "and all of the sudden you just heard this big, loud, your ears started popping, and it come tumbling down on us."
"I never thought I'd be, or my family would be, in that situation."
The church had no power, cooling, or lighting except for what was coming through the roof. The pews had been removed and members were encouraged to bring their own chairs. Lawn chairs and folding chairs, even some cast iron patio furniture, lined the sanctuary.
Rev. Murphy gave a message of thanksgiving.
"There's so much devastation, so much loss of life, but yet we're all who are left here, have so much reason to give thanks," he told Fox6.
Spencer Motes' father, Ralph Motes, gave a testimony at the end of the service. He walked all around the front of the church and even into the congregation as he told his fellow members all about hope and helping others, and about how his wife worked harder to help her own neighborhoods than she did to prepare for Spencer's Saturday funeral.
Afetrwards, Ralph Motes told Fox6 News that his son"was taken for a reason. And I'll never ask what reason, I'll never question it. I just know he was taken for a reason and I know where he's at, and I know I'll see him again."
The Mamre Baptist Church moved into its newer home in 2009, and turned the older church into a fellowship hall. It was that older church that was flattened, and the newer church that was heavily damaged with the roof being ripped off and the west wall being squashed.
Murphy says the building will have to be torn down and rebuilt and he's considering trailers to keep services going on the church's current spot. But he says he wants his members to concentrate on helping to rebuild the surrounding communities of Wellington, Webster's Chapel, Ohatchee and Big Oak.
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