For the first time in two years, an Elmore County congregation has service at their church... this, after the deadly April 27, 2011 tornados wiped out the whole church....
The mile-half tornado tore through the 117-year-old sanctuary at Mount Hebron East Baptist Church. Nothing was left, but the slab under the building and the steps leading to the entrance -- but even though the building was gone, the church's spirit was not.
It was a packed house Sunday morning at Mount Hebron East Baptist Church. More than 150 people crowded the church's sanctuary. So full, dozens of extra chairs were set up and members stood lining the back wall.
It was a very different picture than two years ago, now re-opening the doors to this sanctuary.
"It was just absolute devestation. The buildings were totally gone. The piano was scattered all over the place out into the woods. Every pugh was destroyed and you couldn't even find a piece of pugh any place," Said pastor, Bob WIlliamson.
The April 27, 2011 tornadoes wiped out this church ravaging the sanctuary, fellowship building and the church's cemetary. Sue Duck says she saw the sight just moments after the tornado struck.
"Just gone down to the foundation, you know. Unreal. Just absolutely unreal. Amazing. The grave yard even. The big cement tombstones and even the little dividers... how something like that could happen? It was just amazing and just devastating. It just kind of took your breath away," Described church member, Sue Duck.
It also left 91 year old, Rudolph Holly, in shock. He's a deacon of the church and also Duck's father. She says he's bed-ridden in the hospital, yet that still didn't stop him from creating a gift that would keep his spirit alive.
"He wanted to give back something that was destroyed in the tornado, so instead of painting like mountains or something like that, he said, 'I want to paint a picture of the old church.' So that's what he's done," Said Duck.
Rebuilding the church was a $600,000 project, but with all the volunteers and donations. The church only paid about half of that. Now, scenes of scattered trees and buildings are a thing of the past for this congregation, as they finally come back home.
Pastor Williamson says now that they've finished the building, they hope to reach out to the community with the good news.