The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 1, 2013

St. James celebrates Easter with first service in new church

JOPLIN, Mo. — As the Rev. Tommy Freeman began his Easter morning sermon, he could hear his words echo through the halls of St. James United Methodist Church.

The church reopened Sunday, nearly two years after it was destroyed by the 2011 tornado.

“Resurrection time is the greatest time,” Freeman told the 60-member congregation. “And today we celebrate that as the time that we have all come home to be together again.”

The tornado leveled the building, leaving only a couple of walls standing. The organ, piano, pews and more were never seen again.

The church was rebuilt at 2501 E. 20th St. — the same site that was claimed by the tornado. Freeman, who led the church through four different locations including his own basement after the tornado, said it was good to be together in a familiar location.

“We lost our church, but we didn’t lose each other,” he said. “We were excited to be together on Easter because of what it means to the resurrection. We rebuilt together, and now we can worship together.”

Freeman’s excitement was shared by members of the congregation, including Bruce Layman, who led the benediction. Layman has been an active member of St. James for several years.

“Today has been a long time coming,” Layman said. “We moved around a lot after we lost our building, and it was trying. But we were there for each other through the whole ordeal. That is what matters to everyone here.”

Joyce Fitzsimmons, of Joplin, and her granddaughter Sarah Sparks, of Diamond, attended Sunday’s service to celebrate Easter. Fitzsimmons has been a member of St. James for more than five years.

“I feel like I came home today,” Fitzsimmons said. “It took a long time to get here, but now that we are under the same roof, I feel like it is a blessing to see everyone here.”

Church members broke ground in June 2012, with American Construction Inc., of Joplin, in charge of the $1.3 million rebuilding effort.

Freeman said the new building, at 10,565 square feet, is smaller than the previous church.

“We had the luxury of planning out everything we wanted and all at once,” he said. “We are 800 square feet smaller, but we also are out of this debt-free with a brand new facility. Today we’re back, and I’m glad that I could experience it inside our church once more.”

Full circle

THE REV. TOMMY FREEMAN is the former pastor of a United Methodist church in Louisiana that was devastated by a tornado more than a decade ago. Rebuilding was a challenge the congregation couldn’t have pulled off without help from Methodists and other denominations and individuals around the country, he said.

SO WHEN FREEMAN LEARNED that an arson fire had destroyed St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lamar in 2009, he rallied his congregation to help. The group raised $608 by passing the plate.

THIS TIME, it was Freeman’s turn again as churches from 20 states stepped forward with donations to help rebuild St. James United Methodist Church in Joplin.

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


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
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter