Etowah County church slowly rebuilds after tornado destroys historic sanctuary

Southside church rebuilding after tornado

ETOWAH COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - One weather event ended the life of an Etowah County church sanctuary, and another one is delaying its rebuilding effort.

The tornadoes that came through east Alabama a year ago Tuesday night also destroyed the historic Brannon Springs Church on Green Valley Road in Southside.

The church has been meeting since the 1890s, but the building dated back to 1911.

Now, the long periods of rainfall are being blamed for delays in the new building going up.

The pastor of the church, Rev. Ellis McDill, tells us why the church is now renamed the Brannon Springs New Beginning Church.

“Well, because the church being destroyed and everything, and just like a resurrection, a new beginning, say, this is starting all over again,” McDill said. “This congregation of people that--no, they’re not a big congregation, nothing like that. They’re a small congregation but they come together.”

For now, the congregation holds its services at the Big Oak Volunteer Fire Department, about two miles away.

He says the new church sanctuary will be built, and open for worship, in what he calls, “God’s Time.” He laughs as he says the women of the church are impatient to be back inside a new building.

McDill says his heart was broken when he first saw the damage that destroyed the 107 year old building. Not only had a large tree destroyed part of the roof, but rain got inside the church and destroyed the sound equipment and some of the pews. WBRC cameras caught church members salvaging the pulpit and the church piano two days after the tornado.

“It was heartbreaking to see all that destruction, where we had once worshiped and praised God,” McDill recalls. "It was a humbling experience, to see all of that happen, but through it all, God’s going to bring us out of it. He always has and always will.”

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