Arkansas church destroyed by tornado, congregation rebuilds for a second time

Arkansas Church Destroyed by Tornado, Congregation Rebuilds for a Second Time

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A congregation of more than 100 people in Lake City, Arkansas, is devastated after their church was destroyed by a tornado, part of the remnants of Hurricane Laura.

Parts of the ceiling at Refuge Church have caved in, as most of the roof was torn off by this tornado.

Refuge Church welcomed back its congregants for socially distanced service for the first time two weeks ago. The Pastor of Refuge Church says the congregation has rebuilt before. Years ago, the church buildings were also destroyed by a tornado.

Tornado causes Ark. church roof to collapse

The Pastor of Refuge Church Steve Hinkle, his wife, 15-year-old son, and their dog all huddled in their bathroom for safety Thursday night while the tornado raged outside.

“It happened so quick, it was in the dark it was surreal,” Pastor Steve Hinkle, of Refuge Baptist Church, said.

A silver bell created after a tornado in 1984 destroyed Refuge Church miraculously still stands, surrounded by destruction.

“All along we’ve told everyone church isn’t a building, it’s the people, and he protected the people, he protected me and my family and buildings can be rebuilt,” Pastor Hinkle said.

Now Refuge Church begins to rebuild again, with members of the congregation and the community already working to salvage anything they can.

“It could have been a lot worse, we could have been in the middle of a service or something like that when it hit,” Hinkle’s wife Suzette wife said. “So for me, it’s just gratefulness that God took care of everybody that was out here and that it’s only buildings that were destroyed and not people hurt.”

At this time, Pastor Hinkle says all he wants is prayers and support from the community.

He doesn’t know if anything is salvageable or how long it will take to put up a new building, but they say however long it takes, there will be a new Refuge Church someday.

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