April 15, 2011 Anniversary: Boone's Chapel Baptist Church Rededication


By Catalina Trivino

It's been about two years since a tornado took the lives of three Autauga County residents and destroyed the sanctuary at a church... and today state and city officials joined members at Boone's Chapel Baptist church to rededicate the space.

With the energy in this room, you'd never know the Boone's Chapel Baptist congregation suffered a loss...

"Everything had been removed from the slab, including some of the pughs that were bolted down. It's hard to believe that the lagbolts, everything that holds a structure down like that were just completley removed," Said Pastor Mike Johnson.

It happened April 15th, 2011 -- a tornado with wind speeds up to 165 miles per hour roared through the Boone's Chapel community and killed three people.

Since then, it's been a community effort to rebuild the church from the ground up. On Sunday, hundreds gathered to celebrate the rededication of the church.

It's a $1.7 million addition. The church added a 17,000 square foot facility, housing a multi-use worship and recreation room for children -- but most importantly a "safe room" -- which is available to the entire community in the event of future severe weather.

Church leaders tell us the walls are 12 inches thick. They say the ceiling is 10 inches thick -- all solid concrete.

Alabama News Network climbed on top of the "safe room" to see how thick it actually is -- and it's no joke. The outside is completely covered with cinderblocks.

Governor Robert Bentley says it's one of many they've planned to build in Alabama.

"We're putting safe rooms all over the state with the mitigation grant money that has come to us. And millions of dollars are being put in not only community safe rooms, but individual safe rooms," Said Bentley.

It's an addition church member, Gerald Jernigan, says he agrees with. He tells us he hopes no one goes through what this congregation did two years ago.

"That was a tragic day when we lost loved ones and part of our church. But look what God's restored and rebuilt for us today... it's awesome," Said Jernigan.

So awesome that church officials tell us since the April tragedy, the congregation has grown in size and is stronger than ever.

The church now has about 600 members. It also plans to build a new gym in the coming months.