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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Peace in Joplin, Mo.

Two years after a tornado, church has new home

More than two years after a massive tornado destroyed much of Joplin, Mo., members of Peace Lutheran Church are finally back in a space they can call their own.

“We say the church isn’t just a building, but that’s not completely true,” said Kathy Redpath, pastor. “Everybody needs a home; that’s just the human part of us.”

And Peace’s new home is filling that need. Situated on 14 acres about five miles north of its previous location, the building is the result of more than a year’s worth of planning. It was dedicated in June.

Peace’s former building had been built in 1965, with classrooms and fellowship space added in 2011. The congregation was in a transitional period and had an interim pastor when the storm hit on May 22, 2011.

The tornado left only four brick columns standing. Sarah Jo Radcliffe, office manager, described the wreckage as “unbelievable,” claiming she had never seen such destruction.

After losing the building, the Central States Synod appointed Redpath to two years at Peace to assist in the transition. Bethany Presbyterian Church in Joplin offered a temporary home to Peace as the congregation regrouped and made rebuilding plans.

“Bethany was a wonderful host to us, and I was so surprised by all the support that came in from people even outside of Joplin. There were donations coming in internationally,” Radcliffe said. “It’s amazing that people can open their hearts to help people they don’t even know.”


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