CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (WJW) – Two waves of thunderstorms have hit Northeast Ohio over the past five days and one local church ended up bearing the brunt of damage from both rounds of severe weather.
On Saturday, powerful winds peeled off a section of the roof in a wing of the historic Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Cuyahoga Falls.
“It’s always a little disbelief at first. These are things that happen to other people sadly, and other places, at other churches and then when it’s your church, it takes a little time, I think, for that reality to set in,” Rev. Joy Fenton-Jones said.
The pastor says she was struck by how many people and other churches offered whatever help they could.
On Sunday, the congregation was able to host services at nearby First Christian Church. Rev. Fenton-Jones is actually the pastor of both churches.
“No one has been hurt, so there are all kinds of ways we can choose to see blessings in the midst of a situation that’s very difficult,” she said.
The faith of the congregation at Pilgrim Church was put to the test again on Wednesday, when the second round of storms overwhelmed a tarp that had been covering the breach in the roof.
“I mean, it’s really shocking and when you walk in that part of the building, I don’t think anything prepares you for seeing that kind of damage. All of the tiles that are down and the water on the floor,” said Rev. Fenton-Jones.
In the midst of all of the damage from the two storms, Pilgrim UCC will be holding sunrise services on Easter Sunday at 6:30 a.m. on the church’s front lawn.
They are inviting the congregations of other churches in Cuyahoga Falls and members of the community to attend the service and celebrate the pastor’s message about a new beginning in the midst of trying times.
“Easter is all about hope in the Christian tradition and it’s all about finding new life in the midst of things that seem to be dead. That’s what the story is, that sometimes where we least expect it, life springs up out of a place that looks hopeless or impossible.,” said Rev. Fenton-Jones.
The church is now working with its insurance carrier and contractors to come up with a plan to repair the damaged section of the complex.