The Hattiesburg American
The Picayune Item
The church is well on its way to recovering as construction crews are working to rebuild the decades-old structure in the heart of the city.
The Rev. Steve Ramp said even though the church has begun the reconstructive process, memories of the vast damage lingers.
“It was so devastating at first to see the roof blown off and the bricks in the street,” Ramp said. “It was overwhelming, really.”
Also overwhelming was the support and encouragement the church received in the months after the tornado.
“People in this community have rallied together with prayers, concern and financial support to help us rebuild and recover,” Ramp said. “In the past, we’ve been pretty good about assisting others. Now we’re learning that it is also blessed to receive.”
The congregation also has been blessed to be able to hold its services just around the corner at Parkway Heights Methodist Church, Ramp said.
When the church is finally able to hold services again, it will be a sort of homecoming for some of its members.
“I think for people who are in their 70s and 80s, (Westminster) is like home for them. So, even though the wonderful hospitality has been extended to us at Parkway Heights, it’s not home,” he said.
And home is where a lot of other people in and around Hattiesburg hope to be someday.
But while for some the rebuilding or relocating could take months or even years, seeing the progress made by Westminster Presbyterian gives everyone a ray of hope that their efforts also will be rewarded eventually.
“It’s kind of depressing to be able to look through your church and see the sky on the back side of it,” Ramp said, but added that with the work he’s seen completed already, he’s optimistic that he and his congregation will be able to be home for Christmas.
“It would be lovely if we can have a Christmas Eve service here.”
We hope that Westminster Presbyterian, and the hundreds of others who suffered structural loss from the EF4 tornado will be able to have a place to call home for Christmas.