Church holds service in BBQ restaurant after tornado destroys building

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Sunday, March 10, 2013

GIBSON, Ga. (WRDW) -- At first, nothing seems to be missing from this church service: preacher, choir and members all sharing faith and Scripture, but there is something out of place -- the sanctuary.

Magnolia Baptist Church was hit by a tornado Tuesday night, but church members didn't let that stop them from having services on Sunday.

Pastor Michael Stewart has preached for a long time but never in a BBQ restaurant.

"We got His love and his care," said Stewart, as he perched from a mobile pulpit.

Charles Harper has been a member of the church for 61 years, and even though Sunday's service was at a place known for filling up the stomach, Harper says it was more about feeding the soul.

"It's the same thing. The people have the same feelings they get all the time," Harper said.

"I've been there my entire life," said Jennifer Landrum.

Landrum has been attending services for almost 40 years, and she says Sunday was proof that a church is more than just the building.

"I'm not used to walking in here on a Sunday morning, but when I came in and saw everyone ... and just the sermon itself just felt ... I felt the same kinship I've always felt," Landrum said.

While there maybe no steeple or roof on the church, Landrum says she is thanking God for one thing in particular.

"I was so thankful that no one was hurt," Landrum said.

It's going to take some time, money and hard work to open the doors again, but Landrum says this tragedy has taught her something.

"Fellowship comes without regards to materials thing," Landrum said.

The lesson learned here is that building doesn't make a church -- people make the church.

The church will continue cleanup efforts and determine where and when to begin building again. Church members say they need all the prayers they can get. If anyone can help with donations (materials or money), you can call the church at (706) 399-9999.


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