Historic church sustains major damage in tornado
FBC Monroe plans to keep on meeting, but prayers are needed
By Brian Koonce
March 21, 2006
MONROE CITY – If you asked Milton Baumgardner his favorite Bible verse, he might say Psalm 55:8: “I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”
Baumgardner, pastor of First Baptist Church, and eight others were in the basement of the historic, 107-year-old building March 12 when a tornado with winds of more than 200 miles per hour tore the roof completely off.
The church serves as an emergency shelter so Baumgardner opened the basement for eight people seeking shelter when tornado warnings were issued across much of Missouri that Sunday evening.
“At about 10:20 I heard a loud explosion,” he said. “After a few minutes I went out to see what had happened and then I saw that the roof was gone.”
Not just the roof, but the steeple, the signs in front of the church and every leaf within sight.
Nobody in the church was hurt, but the police who soon showed up smelled gas and the church was evacuated as a precaution until the lines could be turned off.
Baumgardner said he wasn’t sure of the extent of the damage. They planned to dismantle the remaining portions of the roof and then wait – like so many other Missourians affected by the storms – for the insurance company to take over.
Although they still have no electricity, Baumgardner said services will continue at the church’s two-year-old multipurpose building, which miraculously escaped any damage.
“If this had happened two years ago, I don’t know how things would work out,” he said. “But it’s all in His timing and it’s all going to be all right.”
A church in Hannibal and Hannibal-LaGrange College are providing chairs, hymnals and a piano so First Baptist can continue Sunday services.
And even without a building, the church started a revival meeting the very next week.
“We’ll continue on like normal; things will just be a little bit different,” Baumgardner said. “Just continue to pray for us.”