JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — The stage where the preaching used to happen at the House of Refuge is covered in debris, while the bulk of the church is now strewn across the back yard.
The church sits directly in the path of the EF-3 tornado that ravaged Jefferson City on Wednesday. It barreled through just three hours after the church emptied out for the night.
The tornado wiped out the church and, at the same time, ripped something else away from all who love this place.
“My heart, my heart,” Pastor Jennifer Webb cried. “We put a lot of work into this church, and we had some dynamic services and just not knowing exactly now what we are going to do.”
Pastor Andre Grinston thought he might be lost Thursday morning while driving to the House of Refuge where he’s been coming for 11 years.
“We could not see the steeple from the highway, and we thought, ‘Where is the church?’ We could not see the church,” Grinston said.
What is now a pile of rubble is about 10 miles south of the Capitol building in Jefferson City.
But among the devastation, there’s a sign of hope to the people who consider this place their spiritual home. In the wall of the steeple that came crashing down, the stain glass window is still in tact.
“It takes my breath away, and I break down and I cry, and I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about the rubbish,” Webb said. “We don’t want the flock to scatter. We want to bring them together and know that we are going to be alright. God is going to get us through this.”
Church elders are looking for a temporary space, planning to continue with Sunday worship as soon as next weekend.