(HENRYVILLE)(RTV6) - Although the small town of Henryville was nearly wiped out after the round of severe storms that hit southern Indiana, the congregation of the First Baptist Church was determined to hold services on Sunday.
Parishioners said they felt the need to gather and support each other in the aftermath of the tornado that destroyed their community on Friday.
"It's been a rough 48 hours for all of us, and this morning we want to acknowledge that," said Associate Pastor Cade Campbell. "Outside of these walls, there is still a lot of confusion, a lot of chaos and a lot of loss. This is the only place we need to be."
Moved by Campbell's words, parishioners sang, cried and prayed during the service, just two days after the tornado ripped apart some of their homes.
"It's absolutely devastating," parishioner Melody Gayle said. "I think we're all still in shock and we don't know where to begin."
Church leaders said they felt it was important to have service on Sunday, so they boarded up the windows and opened the doors.
The Rev. Toby Jenkins said finding the words to comfort his congregation was one of the hardest things he's ever had to do, but he wanted to be sure that his words were encouraging.
"This tornado was huge and there should have been hundreds of people who lost their lives, and yet that's not the case," Jenkins said. "Our homes are not where we find hope; our cars are not where we find our hope. We find our hope in God."
Several of Gayle's family members lost all of their possessions and she said she was especially touched by Jenkins' words.
"The hope for this area is that we all pull together. I think we've seen over the last two days that we can rebuild if we just keep the faith that everything is going to be OK," Gayle said.
Since the church's structure remained intact, Jenkins said it will serve as a distribution point for supplies. Storm survivors will be able to come pick up food and water, and the church will also serve as a dispatch point for volunteers.
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