PORTLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Four Portland churches that sustained heavy damage in last week’s tornado held a joint worship service on Sunday.
The town was ravaged by an EF-1 tornado on Monday that damaged dozens of businesses, homes and churches. Five people sustained minor injuries, but no one was seriously hurt.
“It took about half of our roof. We had quite a bit of water damage, too. We’re displaced at the moment. We can’t meet probably for the next few months,” said Duane Bower, the pastor of Epic Community Church.
First Baptist Church, First Congregational Church and United Methodist Church of Portland were also damaged by the storm. The sanctuary of First Congregational was deemed unsalvageable and crews started demolishing it last week. Thursday, the steeple at First Baptist was torn down after it was cracked and fears arose it may fall.
All four churches decided to unite for a joint service at Portland High School.
“It’s really emotional. A big step to see that it’s bringing a lot of people together. This community is always great when there’s a disaster. Everybody helps everybody else and it’s just wonderful to see all the churches pull together,” said Pat Durrant.
Durrant has been a member of the First Congregational Church since 1963 and it holds a special place in her heart.
“My children were all raised there, and on my 25th anniversary, we were remarried there, so it means a lot. Everybody still has faith in the Lord and it’s a day of beginning to rebuild and that we’re one step forward,” said Durrant.
The churches represent different denominations, but the service was all about worship.
“I think we’ve set aside our denominational beliefs today just in order to unite and come together. We all serve the same God, and so today is all about worshiping and praising him,” Pastor Bower said.
“We can all have our different churches that we go to, but coming together as a community and worshiping together is no different than being in our own churches, but we’re coming together as one church,” said Bobbie Hoskins, a member of the United Methodist Church.
There was also a separate space for children’s ministry, which included toddlers up to third-graders.
“It’s about ministering to the kids and making sure we can do so in a manner that is comfortable for them,” said Hoskins, who is a part of United Methodist’s children’s ministry.
The next joint service will be held at the high school on July 5 at 10 a.m.