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Easter Brings A Test Of Faith For Church Displaced After Tornado

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For the second Easter in a row, members of the Gateway Church of the Nazarene worshiped somewhere other than the building they call home.

The devastating Good Friday tornado ripped the roof off the church in 2011 and repairs are still about 2 months away.

'People have had to be flexible,' explained Pastor Stan Hall.  It`s been a difficult year for worshipers not just because of the devastating tornado.

Their former pastor died from a heart attack a month before the twister hit Bridgeton.

'I think some people wondered where`s God,' said Hall.  He said as difficult as the year has been the congregation has stayed together.

They received some big time help from John Calvin Presbyterian Church.  The nearby congregation agreed to share their space.  Gateway Church of the Nazarene has held Sunday afternoon services at the John Calvin building for the past year.

'That`s a time when people want to be out so it`s been tough trying to hold everyone together and keep the communication lines open for the church,' explained Hall.

Dan Patterson was playing guitar for the Easter afternoon service and recalled what it was like to be inside his church when the tornado hit.

'We could hear the roof coming off so about 4 or 5 of us we started running in different directions,' said Patterson.  'After looking at the church it`s amazing that none of us got hurt.'

The biggest challenge for the church this past year has been keeping the congregation together at a time when their building was torn apart.

'That would have been the hardest part if we split and gone other ways,' said congregant Pam Brunton.

Another church member, Rodney Campbell, says his fellow worshipers have remained steadfast that it`s not the building but the people who make a church.  'Still it has an impact on our ministry so we`re ready to get back.'

Hall believes his congregation is stronger for going through this difficult year.  It hasn`t been easy reaching this point but he expects the doors to Gateway Church of the Nazarene to open in two months.

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