May 10--DELMONT -- As Pastor Brian Lemcke stood in front of a brand new church Sunday in Delmont, delivering a powerful prayer, it's hard to fathom it was once a pile of rubble five years ago.
Although a devastating tornado ravaged through the town of Delmont on May 10, 2015, dismantling everything in its path, including a local Zion Lutheran Church, it couldn't destroy the community's faith and perseverance. In attendance for the Mother's Day service were several Delmont community members who remembered when the Zion Lutheran Church was once in ruins and in jeopardy of never returning.
Faced with the difficult decision to rebuild or say goodbye to the house of worship that has been with the community for over a century, church staff opted to rebuild. As construction crews and community volunteers joined forces to construct the church over the past five years, little by little the building was renewed. Thanks to nearly $300,000 in donations and insurance, the rebuilt church became a reality.
"I love seeing how we come together around God, and I'm so thankful for God to have given us the grace and mercy that he has to help us move forward with a church that is going to last us many years in the future," Lemcke said, following the Mother's Day service.
Although Sunday's church service brought back some dark memories for several community members in attendance who recounted the moment when the sirens blared through town, causing everyone to frantically seek shelter, it helped many Delmont residents reflect on how far the community has come since the tornado.
But on Sunday, a similar sound rang through the small town of about 250. Only this time, it came from the church as Jim Kaufman, the church's head trustee, rang the new church bell that stands tall in front of the building, in remembrance of the day the twister struck the community.
For Julie Kaufman, a Delmont resident who attended the Mother's Day service, the church is a symbol of perseverance and the community's commitment to faith in God. Kaufman couldn't imagine what the small town of about 250 would be like without the Zion Lutheran Church.
"This church represents commitment and faith, and it's everything that we believe in and stand for," said Kaufman, as she stood in front of the church on Sunday. "To not have this church here would be devastating to me, because this is who we are."
Although Mother's Day is a special holiday for many, for some who were living in the small town of Delmont during the tornado, it brings back one of the scariest days of their lives. Don Hoffman was one Delmont resident who survived the 2015 tornado, and he remembers nearly every detail of the events that played out during the natural disaster.
"We had just left church, and then it started hailing when we talked to a friend. We got into the garage, the tornado was coming close," Hoffman said. "When we were in the basement taking cover, we heard some loud noise that sounded like shingles on our roof going up and down. Then I found out it was our roof that was lifting up and down from the top of the house."
Like the church, Hoffman was committed to rebuilding his home, which is now complete after dropping $40,000 to finish the project.
"As soon as the tornado was gone and we stepped outside to see all the damage, it was eerily quiet. No wind, no birds, no rain," Hoffman said.
Although natural disasters can leave a trail of devastation and grueling recovery efforts, Lemcke is proud to know the long history of worship that has taken place inside the walls of the Zion Lutheran Church will live on for years to come.
"It's great to know there will be many pastors, many baptisms and many worship services that will take place right here in this church."
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