Thanksgiving prayers in tornado-devastated Selma

(AP) SELMA, Alabama – In spite of the devastation all around them, the Rev. David Nichols encouraged his congregation during Sunday services on the lawn in front of his tornado-damaged Crosspoint Christian Church.

The church’s daycare was damaged by the storm that destroyed Selma. The 70 students and teachers who were gathered in restrooms were safe, but it completely wrecked much of the structure, causing walls to collapse and leaving piles of rubble in several of the classrooms.

Nichols regarded the structure and remarked, “Nothing but by the grace of God that they walked out of there.

The Sunday following a tornado damaged parts of Selma’s old downtown, church congregations offered prayers of thanksgiving for the lives that were spared and consolation for the lives that the tornado claimed elsewhere.

In this ancient city, churches serve as the social center for many. The civil rights movement also benefited greatly from the contributions of black congregations. The 1965 voting rights march was led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is observed on Monday.

Nine people were said to have died as a result of the storm system, including two in Georgia and seven in rural Autauga County, Alabama, where an estimated EF3 tornado—just two levels below the most severe category—threw mobile homes into the air and tore off roofs. A significant portion of the city was destroyed by the Selma twister, an estimated high-end EF2 with winds of 130 mph. Buildings collapsed and trees were snapped in two. The two severely affected Alabama counties have received a major disaster declaration, according to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who made the announcement on Sunday.

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At Selma’s Crosspoint Church, where services were held outside due to damage to the main church, the hymn “Amazing Grace” drifted across the grass. The ceremony also recognized the instructors who acted quickly to get the kids, who ranged in age from babies to five-year-olds, to the lavatories inside the building and protected them with their bodies as the tornado roared over them.

When they saw the storm was going their way, according to Crosspoint Christian daycare teacher Sheila Stockman, they decided to get the kids to the bathroom.

When the walls began to tremble, Stockman instructed her class to “lie down and close their eyes” and then she lay down on top of them until the shaking stopped.

As the tornado rumbled above, according to Stockman, the teachers made an effort to reassure the kids.

I kept saying, ‘It’s OK,’ while I was praying for them. I have you. You are OK. Shana Lathan informed her class as they gathered in the restroom, “I love you all.

When everything was ended, according to Stockman, they walked out of the bathroom to find the building’s exterior and the sky above them gone. Rubble flooded the space where the children had just been.

Members of the venerable Brown Chapel AME congregation distributed food plates, diapers, baby formula, water, and other goods on Sunday afternoon.

The Rev. Leodis Strong remarked, “There are so many people hurting here right now that it’s almost like a mutual sorrow, and it takes a shared hope and a common vision to assist us to support each other through this.”

“A Storm-Tested Faith” was the title of his sermon for the day. Because of the circumstances, Strong stated, “we have to rely on that relationship with God and put the trust that we have formed,” the community’s faith is being challenged.

Outside the church, a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Strong claimed that King’s message is still relevant as the country observes his birthday.

If anything, that should encourage and urge us to put our beliefs into practice and to understand Dr. King’s devotion. Therefore, we can get past this. We’ll succeed, Strong assured.

There was a similar message at Blue Jean Selma Church, a racially diverse church with a name intended to imply that individuals are welcome in any dress they choose. The pastor of the church, Bob Armstrong, remarked, “Even in the midst of catastrophe, we have hope.

Churchgoers related tales of narrow escapes, including one man who managed to escape unharmed from a burning building and another who evacuated a structure just in time to escape a ceiling collapse.

Lynn Reeves, a member of the congregation, expressed a similar sense of thankfulness as she moved to the contemporary gospel tunes beneath the church’s stained glass windows. It’s incredible no one was murdered with all the destruction throughout the city, she remarked.

Reeves took refuge in the restroom of her workplace, an auto parts store, throughout the storm. She claimed that although one of the roof tiles from the store’s delivery vehicle fell on top of her coworker while he was in it during the tornado, he was unharmed.

It’s a good thing. It’s a blessing, by God’s grace, since it might have been worse, Reeves added.

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