By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
MOUNT JULIET — The damage caused by the tornadoes that moved through middle Tennessee on Saturday night has forced The Glade Church in Mount Juliet to move its worship services to a new location for the next several weeks.
The church will hold services at Gladeville Elementary School on Sundays until the damage, which includes a hole in the roof of the sanctuary, has been repaired. Other events and meetings (aside from worship) will still be held at the church, as scheduled.
The National Weather Service reported that an EF-1 tornado hit Joelton and another struck Gladeville on Saturday night. The tornadoes were part of a storm system that moved through Davidson, Rutherford and Wilson counties. No injuries were reported as of Monday, but thousands of homes lost power.
Shortly after the storms moved out of the area around 6 p.m., church officials at The Glade made the decision to cancel worship for the following day, although pastor Mark Marshall delivered a message that was streamed live.
“It was just me and the camera,” Marshall said with a smile during an interview on Tuesday morning. “We had to make some pretty quick decisions on Saturday night about what we were going to do. And we’re still in the process of trying to piece it all back together” in terms of logistics, he said.
Marshall and the staff are still finalizing the schedule for worship times at the school.
Marshall said he is thankful that the elementary school, located across the street from the church, was willing to lend its facilities.
“We have a phenomenal relationship with them,” said Marshall. “Over the years, this church has built a bridge with them. They’ve just finished a huge expansion in the school, which includes a new gym that we will now put to use. We can seat at least 1,000 in there — in the bleachers alone.”
The storm contained severe winds that ripped the steeple off the church building. It landed a few feet away, and embedded in the roof directly above the sanctuary, leaving a large hole in the ceiling.
“Our building was engineered to withstand 90 mph winds,” said Marshall. “The (storm’s) winds were somewhere around 100 mph that came through here.”
Church members and others from the community spent much of Sunday cleaning and repairing.
“If you would have been here Sunday, you’d understand it’s pretty miraculous that we are where we are right now,” said Marshall. “There were probably at least 150 church members here, working. There were chainsaws, trucks, trailers, bobcats, everything. And what we decided to do was to let our people concentrate on our neighbors and our community, and help them clean up.”
During Sunday’s message, Marshall updated his members as much as possible. “The biggest thing we wanted to do on Sunday was communicate with our people,” he said, “and make sure they all have the same information.”
The church also put messages on Facebook and sent out emails to keep members informed.