Tornado Hits Church During Worship Service with Nearly 100 Inside

On a regular Saturday evening, the congregation of Crossroads Ministries in Finleyville, Pennsylvania, gathered for their weekly worship service. They had no idea a tornado was about to test their faith and reveal the power of God’s protection.

tornado hits church crossroads ministries

As Rev. Ken Barner said, “Folks, I just want you to know last night, I witnessed what I would say is a miracle.”

The church, filled with about 100 people, including babies being dedicated and new families visiting for the first time, faced the terrifying force of an F1 tornado that tore off part of their roof.

Barner’s wife, Rhonda, was leading the praise and worship when the chaos began.

“I just heard a really loud noise coming. I thought it was the sound system going wrong, and then started hearing the shattering of the glass, and then, after that, just the windows breaking and it sounded like a train,” she recalled.

The tornado hit the church’s wing that housed restrooms and offices, lifting the roof and sending it into the woods. Despite the damage, no one suffered significant injuries.

“God was with us,” Barner emphasized. “The God who stays stayed with us. He did not leave us alone.”

The church steeple fell into the parking lot, cars were damaged, and the building sustained severe damage. Yet, the congregation emerged with only minor cuts and bruises.

Barner said, “There’s a few cuts and bruises and bumps, as you might imagine, but nobody had to be hospitalized that we know of, and we’re just thankful for that.”

As the storm raged, the power flickered and then went out. Barner, aware of the tornado warning for Lawrence County earlier that evening, quickly evacuated everyone to the cinder block basement.

“My wife, Rhonda, was singing, and all of a sudden, you could hear the noise of the storm. You could hear the wind outside. The power jumped once, then the power went out and came back on,” he said.

Lynn Michigan, a church attendee, described the experience as “the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.” Her husband, Rob, a member of the Castle Shannon Volunteer Fire Department, helped lead the parishioners to safety.

He shared, “I’ve been with the fire service since 1984, and it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced something like this, and I don’t want to experience it again.”

Despite the ordeal, Barner’s message to his congregation was one of hope and faith.

“This is just a building, folks. I thank God for it. The people who’ve gone before us, they have done a good job to hand us what they could do, and we’ve been doing our best to take care of it and really use it for the honor and glory of God, but folks, this is just a building here, and I know that God is really using us as his church,” he said.

The church community is now focused on rebuilding and recovering. The tornado prompted Union Township to declare a state of emergency, and efforts are underway to clear debris and address potential flooding due to blocked waterways.

Township supervisor Michalle Dupree explained, “We’re mainly focusing now on impending dangers,” as the area is prone to flooding during heavy rains.

Barner remains optimistic about the future. “This is a very big moment for our church, and I know that we will get through this,” he assured his congregation.

“The church is not just the building. The church is the people, so this building can be replaced,” Barner noted.

“We are currently working to find a new place to worship as we repair the building. By next weekend, we will meet somewhere.”

In times of trial, our faith in God’s protection and provision becomes our anchor. We may not always understand why such events happen, but we can trust that God is always with us, guiding and protecting us.

Let us continue to pray for the Crossroads Ministries community as they rebuild, knowing that God’s hand is upon them. “We were singing praise to the Almighty, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords,” Barner recalled.


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