By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
OCOEE — Two people known by members of Shiloh Baptist Church here died in the Nov. 30 F-3 tornado which struck the community. The couple, new residents, rented a home from members of the church, reported Charles Campbell, pastor. A mother of one of those who died lost her home though she is okay, he added.
“We’ve had to do a lot of grief counseling and support in that way,” said Campbell.
About 60 families lost their homes or suffered substantial damage to their homes here including about eight families of Shiloh Baptist, he added. Also the church building was damaged.
One blessing from the tragedy is that just after the storm as Campbell and several other church leaders checked on the church facility at about 3 a.m., a teen accepted Christ. She was with a couple who left their house after it was damaged to go check on someone else when a deacon of Shiloh Baptist met them.
After a short conversation, the deacon “asked them if they knew the Lord, if they had the assurance of salvation and peace,” reported Campbell. The deacon found that the couple were Christians but the teen said she “needed that.” The deacon led her to accept Christ, the pastor reported.
“It’s stories like that that we’re seeing and we have made inroads into some families for continued ministry,” he added.
Campbell, a Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer, said on Dec. 12 that the church has “been ministering pretty much around the clock” since the tornado struck as a feeding and relief station. Shiloh Baptist had served about 1,500 folks mainly with meals. Delano Baptist Church, Delano, and several local restaurants and businesses helped the church, which draws about 200 to Sunday morning worship.
Also, a Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief chain saw crew of Shiloh Baptist has been helping tornado victims as well as TBDR volunteers from CrossNet Baptist Network (formerly Bradley Baptist Association), based in Cleveland, and from Woodland Baptist Church, Jackson. Baptists have installed tarps on damaged roofs, removed downed trees, and given generators, heaters, and funds for rent to storm victims, he noted.
The church’s Family Life Center was damaged and cannot be used until it is repaired. Sunday School classes and other events have been relocated.
Campbell asked for prayer for the continued disaster response there.
Additionally, Baptists of Gum Springs Baptist Church, Georgetown, and CrossNet Baptist Network are helping a family of the church whose mobile home was destroyed.
A Nov. 30 tornado also struck McMinn County (Athens area) injuring 11 people and damaging two Baptist churches, Coffee County (Tullahoma/Manchester area) damaging one Baptist church, and Marion County (Jasper north of Chattanooga). Storms also struck Meigs County (Decatur, west of Athens) and Hamilton County (Chattanooga area) injuring one person.