When the storm struck the former structure, the church was known as Pine Grove Congregational Holiness Church. Now leaders say the church is moving forward with a new name and a new beginning in the Pleasant Valley community of Calhoun County.
“It’s just given us all a new beginning all the way through,” said pastor Jason Williams. “It was devastating to begin with but it’s wound up being a joy.”
On a typical Sunday, roughly 100 people attend Genesis Worship Center, but this Sunday more than 200 of the volunteers who helped rebuild the structure are expected to show up, Williams said. They will come from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and even Indiana, he said.
The tornado took everything the church had, Williams said, everything but its members. The sanctuary, the parsonage — even the church sign — were blown away on April 27. All that remained of the old structure was a bare parking lot, a few concrete steps and a slab.
The new structure stands a few yards from the old church building, nearer to the road. It is neat and bricked. Surrounding it are other new structures — homes — that have cropped up in the past year to replace those blown away.
Sunday’s 10 a.m. service will include dramatic dance, songs, thank-yous and a sermon centered on an eight-word sentence found in Second Corinthians.
It reads: “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
The lives the congregants have lived since the storm struck have been an echo of that short sentence, Williams said.
Church members had no choice but to trust that the God they trust their souls to would provide for their futures.
“I feel that’s what it took,” Williams said. “The only thing we had to build on was faith.”
Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter@ LJohnson_Star.