Local News

Garner Church Celebrates Safety, Community

Posted March 22, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— Friday night's tornado virtually destroyed a church building in Garner, but members spent Sunday cleaning up -- and giving thanks that no one was hurt.

Yesterday, parishioners from First Church of the Nazarene gathered at a church across US 70 to say their prayers and focus on the recovery tasks ahead. Capital Pentecostal Holiness Church, left unscathed by the winds that had pounded its neighbor, offered use of its sanctuary in the afternoon

For members of the First Church of the Nazarene, it's a matter of faith. Pastor Riley Powell told his congregation that "It doesn't matter where we're at. As long as we're together as a congregation, that's where our church goes."

Just two days after the tornado ripped through their church, tearing off its steeple and wrecking a day care center, members know they have more to be thankful for than usual.

In his prayers, Powell said thanks "for all the great acts of benevolence and love and community that was shown to us in the last 48 hours."

Debbie Grudzinski's first reaction to the news of her church's damage was that she wanted to be at the site. "First thing I thought about was I want to be with my church family because we have such a bond. We've been through so much together.

Following their church's motto, "Together we can," the congregation is determined to rebuild.

Picking up the pieces won't be easy, but members know it will be worth it.

"This church is sentimental to us because we married here, met here, had our children," Grudzinksi said. Looking down at her toddler, she added, "...and went to school here."

Church members hope to have part of the nursery open by Tuesday. They plan to hold services in their own sanctuary next week.