The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 26, 2012

Joplin's Blendville Christian Church, destroyed by tornado, moves into rebuilt sanctuary

JOPLIN, Mo. — Senior minister Virgil Eubanks opened his sermon Sunday morning with a confession to his congregation.

“I kind of want to cry,” he told more than 100 members of Blendville Christian Church who were present. “I’m going to try not to.”

The desire to shed tears of joy was a common one at the church, 2201 S. Picher Ave., as members met for a Sunday morning service for the first time in their newly rebuilt worship center. The center was destroyed by the May 22, 2011, tornado.

Sharing those emotions was JoAnn Brill, of Joplin.

“I almost feel like crying, it’s so wonderful,” she said as she greeted people and distributed bulletins before the service. “We’ve been praying for this (building), which we finally have.”

It was a long time — 15 months — for church members to be displaced from their regular house of worship, said Brill, who has attended Blendville since 1974 with her husband, Bill.

“Now we’re home,” she said. “We’ve got our sanctuary.”

Steve Aggus, a member of Blendville since 1972, said the months after the tornado were difficult for the church but also encouraging, thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who turned out to help.

“Today, it was wonderful because we had gone through the strains of rebuilding,” said Aggus, of Redings Mill. “You can be negative if you want to, but you’ve got to look to the brighter things in life. We look forward to touching other people’s lives.”

About 60 people were inside the church on May 22, 2011. Some were meeting to discuss vacation Bible school; others were preparing to look at photos and slides from a recent trip to Israel.

When the tornado struck, most took shelter in the church’s basement. Eubanks didn’t make it down the stairs in time and ducked at the last minute into the church’s kitchen, where he jumped behind the refrigerator. No one was seriously injured, he said.

The building itself didn’t fare as well. The tornado ripped off most of the roof and destroyed the worship center. Even the parts of the building that escaped major damage, such as the Fellowship Hall and church offices, were ruined by the heavy rains of the following days.

Church members rallied, Eubanks said. For a few weeks after the tornado, they met to worship under a tent in the church parking lot before moving their services to the Ozark Christian College library. After the repair and remodeling of their Fellowship Hall was completed late last year, they held their services there before finally moving permanently into their worship center on Sunday.

“I think in a lot of ways, our church is stronger because we’ve stayed together,” Eubanks said.

The new Blendville church is nearly twice as large as the former, Eubanks said. The worship center is wider, the entryway is larger, and three multipurpose rooms were added in the back of the building, he said.

But Eubanks said the new building ultimately is a tool to be used in the church’s mission of outreach and discipleship.

“You’ve got to have an address, but all of our focus is not going to be on the building,” he said. “We want to focus more on our people and the community.”

Upcoming events

The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Blendville Christian Church, 2201 S. Picher Ave., at 11 a.m. Tuesday. The church will have a dedication service and centennial celebration at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2; the public may attend.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Ballot issues dominate GOP event

    A maze of campaign yard signs lined the sidewalk at Big Spring Park, leading up to a line of local candidates for public office with rolled-up sleeves shaking hands with potential voters.

    July 24, 2014

  • Mike Pound: It’s time for some football

    The arrests, the announced suspensions and the contract disputes can mean only one thing: Somebody is ready for some football.

    July 24, 2014

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hanaway says leadership missing under Gov. Nixon

    When Republican gubernatorial hopeful Catherine Hanaway walked into the banquet room at Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant this week, she was greeted by some of Joplin’s more prominent business leaders.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shrine Bowl band, cheerleaders, players arrive in Pittsburg this week

    Band members were the first Kansas Shrine Bowl participants to arrive at Pittsburg State University this week.

    July 24, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Amendment 8 in Missouri proposes a special lottery ticket to help fund state veterans homes. How will you vote?

For it.
Against it.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter