Church faces damage together: "Something good will come from this"

Nearly one week after learning the ceiling in the sanctuary collapsed, leaders and members at First United Methodist Church in Carthage are sharing a positive outlook on the future.

The view from Shelby Street Wednesday was the same as it's always been. Sandy Payne was busy watching the pumpkin patch. It's her favorite seat aside her usual spot in the sanctuary.

But that one is hidden under dry-wall, insulation and a chandelier.

"I came early to look at it," Payne said. "It was just amazing. Just unbelievable."

You'd think the adjectives would flow freely--yet no one seems to be able to put their feelings about what happened into words.

"For [many of my members], their lifetime has been here," Senior Minister Keefe Cropper said.

Cropper doesn't think about what happened in terms of damage.

"Because when I look across the pews I see people," he said. "So I think about what could have happened."

He lead last Sunday's service in the gym--now set up as a makeshift sanctuary.

"Every one of those faces looking at me on Sunday morning was perfectly well and perfectly safe," Cropper said. "And the church was unharmed in so many ways."

One of the goals in that service was to remind people like Payne that the church is the people.

"[Pastor Cropper] thinks it's an opportunity for us and it is," Payne said. "We had a huge crowd Sunday morning."

It's a crowd that doesn't mind not knowing why the ceiling fell or how long it will take to fix. Instead the members have faith that a plan will become clear.

"Something good will come from this too," Payne said.

Worship will continue in the church gym for the time being--along with some existing services that were already taking place in the fellowship hall. The church's insurance is going to take care of all the finances. They do not need donations right now.


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