May 6, 2003
Posted at: 6:55 p.m. CDT
MCCRORY, Ark. -- Residents of the Woodruff County town of McCrory may not have a portion of the building, but their church is still there.
A tornado classified as an F3 by the National Weather Service tore through Woodruff County on Sunday. The winds, likely to have reached 160 miles per hour, damaged several homes and buildings, including the First Baptist Church in McCrory.
Members of Faith Baptist, a small church in McCrory, just met two months ago for a big celebration, a huge party celebrating its 30th anniversary. On Tuesday, unfortunately, members congregated to get their church back on its feet after portions of the building were wiped out by Sunday's tornado.
"I just came by and I saw (the church)," church member Hannah Horner said. "I just started crying, it was really sad."
Horner and her five sisters consider Faith Baptist a second home.
"I know I can always come here if I need help or advice," Horner said. "It's just a good thing for me."
Horner was the first of her family members to spot the fallen church.
"I was like: 'Mom, we got hit pretty bad,'" Horner said. "And she was like: 'What happened?' I said I saw the church and it was torn completely in the middle, and she called my dad and told him and he came home from work."
Faith Baptist is a small church community, made up of 60 members, mostly adults. Horner says she wants to be apart of its physical and spiritual rebuilding.
"The building really isn't anything, it's just the people," Horner said.
Since Sunday, residents haven't stopped calling pastor Steve Shephard with messages of support.
"I looked over and said: 'Lord the church is gone,'" Shephard said. "Actually it's just the building that's gone, the church is still here.
"We can't plan for anything like this because acts of nature, so to speak, or acts of God just happen. We're just fortunate no one was injured," he added.
The church's sanctuary is the only place that was not damaged by the tornado. All of the chandeliers are still on the ceiling, and the bibles are still where they belong: in the pews. Shephard believes that it was God who played a role in this.
"(God) said: 'I'm going to protect my symbol, and his symbol is the cross,' Shephard said. "Disasters pull people together. I think disasters are going to pull people closer together."
Shepherd says his congregation will likely have to hold church services at the neighboring funeral home for a few weeks
To make donations to help the church with rebuilding, residents can mail the church at: