Local church healing after act of God

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Parishioners of the tornado-ravaged Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church didn’t let the shortage of light diminish their worship on Sunday.

Members of the congregation were just glad to get back in their pews for the first regular service since the tornado twisted through the building on Aug. 8.

“I have heard people say it was a miracle that no one was hurt,” said Rev. David Aja-Sigmon. “We all feel so fortunate.”

Of course, the church building is a different story.

In one of the tornado’s most-enduring visuals, the church’s centerpiece, a 25-foot stained-glass window installed in 1951 was found shattered into a million pieces on the Fourth Avenue sidewalk.

That wasn’t the only damage.

During the last seven weeks, the church also had its carpet replaced, the walls redone and work done on the pews while the congregants prayed on folding chairs in the basement. The final estimates for all the damage aren’t in yet, but Aja-Sigmon says that insurance will cover most of it.

The rest is a matter of faith — and ingenuity.

“We are going to have to get creative, but we will be able to handle it,” said Aja-Sigmon.

Aja-Sigmon says the repairs will take time. The boarded-up hole that once housed the stained-glass window displays a small photo of the window’s former glory. It could take as long as a year before it is restored.

The church won’t get any handouts from Uncle Sam — religious institutions are ineligible for FEMA grants — but Aja-Sigmon’s spirit is undaunted.

“Everyone is safe and this community has been great to us,” said Aja-Sigmon. “What more can we ask for?”

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