The tornados that swooped down from the skies across a five-state area this month, leaving behind a path of death, injury, and destruction, did not spare churches and church families. At least one pastor was killed (see box, this page).

Stricken areas included northern Alabama, central and eastern Tennessee, most of Kentucky and Indiana, and western Ohio. Xenia, Ohio, Brandenburg and Louisville, Kentucky, and Jasper, Alabama, were among the communities hit hardest. The death toll stood at more than 300, with damage amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

At Xenia (population: 27,000), a tornado struck at 4:45 P.M. on Wednesday, April 3. Four churches were completely destroyed: St. Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church, First Lutheran, Xenia Baptist Temple, and Orange Street Church of God. A black church under construction was destroyed also. Two Presbyterian churches and First Nazarene suffered extensive damage, with several other churches faring only slightly better. At least three parsonages (Orange Street, First Methodist, and First Nazarene) were destroyed, and others were badly damaged. Miraculously, say churchmen in the area, there were no deaths among the parsonage families. (In all, at least twenty-eight died and nearly 600 were injured in the Xenia devastation. Relief officials said that even a week after the storm damage and casualty details were hard to come by.)

Red Cross and Seventh-day Adventists from the Xenia area joined forces to set up a relief distribution center in an elementary school—one of the few left standing. Seventh-day Adventist World Service (the church’s relief arm) reported that more than 36,000 pounds of blankets and clothing were being processed at the center. Adventists at ...

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