(Photo: Reuters/Eric Thayer)
An EF-5 tornado will not prevent Joplin, Mo. residents from attending church service on Sunday.
Several churches in Joplin are holding services amid the rubble or at another building. The city of 50,000 people is estimated to be 25 to 30 percent destroyed.
No organ or piano music will be heard today at Peace Lutheran Church in Joplin – the instruments have been reduced to splinters, reported The Kansas City Star. But congregants will still come together on the Sabbath for a simple service in the church’s parking lot using folding chairs.
“[I]t felt good for us that we should meet here at least one more time,” said Pastor William Pape, who will need to look for another church building after this week.
At least two members of Peace Lutheran are still missing.
Across the street at Harmony Heights Baptist Church, three congregants died when the building collapsed on them during an evening service on May 22 when the tornado struck. In total, there were some 50 people inside Harmony Heights church when it caved in that day.
The death toll for the Joplin tornado as of Saturday evening is 142, making it the deadliest single twister in recorded U.S. history. Another 100 residents are still missing, according to officials.
On Saturday, members of Joplin’s St. Mary’s Catholic Church rummaged through the rubble near the church property to search for salvageable items. Someone found the pastor’s Bible and another person found his golf clubs, according to CNN.
“The enthusiasm was unbelievable, even as people were shedding tears,” said Fr. Justin Monaghan, who was trapped under rubble until parishioners rescued him. “It’s just wonderful to see.”
Parishioners of St. Mary will hold Sunday mass this week at St. Peter’s church in Joplin and plan to rebuild their church building.
Meanwhile, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church will hold their service at the Bridge Ministries center today.
Later on Sunday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama are scheduled to participate in a community memorial service for Joplin tornado victims. A city-wide moment of silent will take place at exactly 5:41 p.m. to mark the one week anniversary of the highly destructive Joplin tornado.