SBC DIGEST: Texas church still rebuilding from Harvey; Georgia tornado-damaged church helps Kentucky tornado victims

Texas Baptist Men rebuild church gym destroyed by Hurricane Harvey

By BGCT Staff

ROCKPORT (BP) – More than four years after Hurricane Harvey, Rockport still is recovering from storm damage. But thanks to Texas Baptist Men Builders, one church’s recovery is much closer now than just a few months ago.

TBM Builders worked on rebuilding a gym for Coastal Oaks Baptist Church after Hurricane Harvey destroyed the church’s previous gym. Photo courtesy of TBM Builders

When Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast in 2017, Rockport took a direct hit. The storm crawled through the state at a sluggish 5 mph, wreaking havoc in its path with powerful wind, heavy rains and even tornadoes.

Coastal Oaks Baptist Church sustained significant damage. One of the church’s largest buildings, which housed the only privately owned gymnasium in town, required demolition.

The church called on TBM to see where the ministry could help.

In November, about 14 TBM Builders began work on the facility, which eventually will house a gym, education space and a kitchen. Volunteers framed the first and second floors of the new space, handled electrical work and assisted in other projects as needed.

“The work we do is behind the scenes, but it helps pastors and teachers do what they’re called to do,” TBM Builders Coordinator Wayne Pritchard said. “We provide facilities for people to use to minister to others for Christ.”

Once completed, the building – designed with youth in mind – will open many doors for ministry in Rockport, said Ken Marks, project manager at Coastal Oaks Baptist Church.

In addition to youth ministry, it also will serve as an event space for the community, he added.

“It is really hard work but some of the most gratifying work I’ve ever done in my life,” said TBM volunteer Randy Lloyd, who regularly serves with TBM Church Builders alongside his wife of 47 years Patsy. “It’s gratifying because we know it’s work for the Lord and not for us.”


Tornado-ravaged Georgia church celebrates ‘grand reopening’ by collecting offering for Kentucky

By Roger Alford

NEWNAN, Ga. – (BP) – Nine months ago, Unity Baptist Church’s campus was in shambles with three buildings heavily damaged and two others destroyed by a massive EF-4 tornado packing winds in excess of 175 mph.

Roofs were blown off. Gaping holes were left in walls. The bus garage disappeared. The gymnasium was beyond repair. Damage was about $6 million.

“As the old song says, ‘we’ve come a long way, baby,’” said Pastor Doug McCart, standing in a renovated worship center. “It’s absolutely amazing what God has done.”

On Sunday, members of the congregation celebrated a “grand reopening,” observing the day by collecting an offering to be sent to Kentucky churches to help survivors of a tornado outbreak there that killed 77 people.

That offering totaled nearly $25,000.

“It’s pretty amazing,” McCart said. “Our people have been given so much, and now they’re reaching out to help others.”

If any congregation understands what the Kentucky churches are facing, it’s Unity Baptist. While three buildings have been restored at a cost of $4.5 million, the congregation still has to replace the gymnasium.

Damage from the tornado remains obvious all over Newnan. Some homes still have tarps draped across their damaged roofs. Others have plywood nailed over blown out windows. A two-story apartment building just down the street is missing its roof and upper walls, leaving soggy furnishings exposed.

McCart and his wife Greta had taken refuge in the church’s gymnasium when the tornado roared through Newnan. As they sat together in a stairwell, they felt the walls begin to sway back and forth. They heard the tin peeling off the roof. The stairs began to shake like a rollercoaster.

“That’s when I said, ‘This building can’t stand this kind of pressure; I’m about to meet Jesus face to face,’” McCart said.

The McCarts’ survival was national news. The Weather Channel interviewed the pastor and showed footage of the badly damaged church. Other TV stations across the country used the interview and footage on their newscasts.

The tornado that hit Unity Baptist was one of several that hopscotched across Georgia and Alabama on March 26, leaving widespread destruction in their wake. Some 200 homes were destroyed and another 4,000 damaged.

McCart said the Lord has blessed Unity Baptist in ways that are of far greater importance than the restored buildings. He said the congregation has experienced revival, adding 50 new members over the past year and celebrating 23 baptisms despite the tornado.

“It has pulled us together,” he said.

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