PORTLAND, MI (WLNS)- Members of The Epic Community Church gathered back in their place of worship Sunday for the first time in more than 3 months.
The church building was majorly damaged by the tornado that tore through the city of Portland last June.
“It was a moment I won’t forget” Pastor Duane Bower said, as he explains June 22nd is a day that will forever be burned in his memory.
“I turned and looked out my window, which was the only light at the time, and when I did, I could see the trees go, I saw parts of the roof go and I thought uh oh” Bower said.
Bower as alone in the church, when an EF-1 tornado tore through the town of Portland Mi.
“Maybe it was just intuition, I stood up and I booked it into the main gathering, thinking that might be the safest place. That was the biggest place and it was the center of the building” Bower said he went into the main sanctuary, where he watched the very kick storm come across his church.
Once the storm passed, he found the ceiling ripped off and watched as water poured into the building, ruining everything he had worked so hard for.
According to Bower his first instinct was to grab garbage cans to catch the water, but realizing it was too much, he went outside and finally realized what had just happened. “..and that’s when it just kind of hit me, I think it just, just for a split second or so, I started to bawl.” Bower said.
That day marked the start of a long road to recovery; One that members of the congregation walked along with him. And now, nearly 4 months later, their place of worship is fully restored.
As smiling faces filled the seats for their first service in the renovated building this morning, one member says she couldn’t be happier to “be home.”
“It’s great to be back, in the comfort and warmth of a warm building as the cold weather approaches and just the blessing of all of us being here together that we could be here together worship God” Sheryl Vangor Epic Community Church member.
“It is that reminder constant reminder for me that church is not a building, you know it is the people, and ugh that was probably the biggest lesson, and it’s not that I didn’t know that before but now it’s really in your face (laughs) “ Pastor Bower said.
Bower said while they were able to resume services in the church, there is still a lot of work to be done; But adds, that he’s extremely thankful for the support of the community and his members that have helped get things back to this point.