I haven’t posted a church construction update in a while. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t driven by the site in months. I keep up with the progress through members’ facebook pages so I know progress is moving forward, but I just don’t want to see the area of reconstruction. It’s been 2 years since the tornado took our church building along with much of Tuscaloosa and I’m finally coming to terms with what happened. I’m working through the feelings of helplessness, survivor’s guilt, and fear that were left behind. I am sure the completion of our building will be another building block in recovery.
Here is what was left of the building on April 27, 2011.
And here is the mostly finished building.
Where have we been meeting for the past 2 years? In a place that will ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart. The Alabama Fire College. We have been meeting in the bay where the fire trucks are located. For 2 years, they have opened up their “home” to us. They make sure the trucks are out before Sunday morning services. They opened up their classrooms to us for Sunday and Wednesday nights. They even purchased industrial kitchen equipment so we could still feed the college kids on Wednesday nights and have our occasional meals together. They did all this for us. When the first few temporary options fell through, the deacons were afraid there were no options for us to meet together and we would need to find other church homes until we could rebuild. Keep in mind, a LOT of churches and buildings were just gone. Nothing left. But lots of prayers were answered and the man who manages the Alabama Fire College offered us his building. Free of charge. No questions asked. He’s not a member of our congregation. But he knew he could help when the town was literally in pieces.
These past 2 years, we have been in limbo, but so very grateful that we are still together as a congregation. Nobody likes being on the chair set-up team to put out 300 chairs each Sunday. But we did it. In the winter, we weren’t crazy about wearing our snow gear and huddling together in the bay. But, we did it. And a few years from now, when we are sitting in our new building, we will look back on these 2 years as being the time of great growth as a church family. We have spent 2 years growing together. It’s amazing how people sit on “their” side of the auditorium in the old building, and our paths never cross! But throw us all together in one large truck bay, on food teams, on teacher teams, and for a very special wedding in this very bay, and we had no choice but to get to know our members better. We needed this time together. Nobody had any idea on April 28th, 2011 that we would be singing the praises of the destruction of our building. But much good has happened and many blessings have come from the trials.
Just a few more weeks of this room. I’ll actually be a little sad to say goodbye. But we have a lot of work to do in the community. And we will soon have the resources to carry on that work. Recovery takes on many forms. For me, the time of healing at Alabama Fire College has been amazing.