Building Demolished, But Hope Still Stands For Greene County Church

"We have on our sign down there where the church used to be. The sign very fittingly says give thanks to the Lord for what he has done. And this morning, that's what we're here to do. Give thanks to the lord for what he's done for us," Avera Baptist Church pastor Les Dale says during a Sunday morning sermon.

Despite the destruction, members of Avera Baptist Church continue to lift their voices up in song. As a result of the damage, the congregation held a special Sunday service here at a church members home.

Wednesday's tornado heavily damaged their church leaving behind piles of wood, bricks and scattered insulation blowing in the wind. The severe weather had a profound impact on seven year old Zachary Dale. His dad is the church's pastor.

"I just thought that maybe the roof and the surrounding of the church, the body of it, the pews and the stuff would just be laying there. I didn't expect the pews to be flattened and the back wall to just be standing. When I walked up there, I did cry a little bit. I did start to tear up when I heard that it was not there," seven year old Zachary Dale says.

It's easy to see that over 30 years of the Avera Baptist Church lie in this debris. But if you look beyond the rubble, you'll see the spirit of the church isn't just about brick and mortar.

"The church building is kinda like a place of refuge, but it's just a building, it's not the church itself. The building can be rebuilt. Our church is right here today, meeting here today," deacon Wesley Brownlee says.

"Early on you focus on destruction and what's lost. Now I believe we're looking forward to what's in the future," Pastor Dale says.

A future that Pastor Les Dale says will include a new Avera Baptist Church.

"We plan on rebuilding, we do. That's the plan right now," Dale says.

In the meantime, church members are staying true to the message on this sign -- one of the only things still standing after the storm.

"You really don't realize the help that's available out there, the people that do love you, until something like this does happen. It's like a mini-revival," Brownlee says.

You too can help the Avera Baptist Church with their rebuilding and recovery. A fund has been set up in the church's name at all Regions Banks. To get more information on the church or how you can help, call 602-325-3798.