Local church damaged by fire, then winds will rebuild


Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Justin Jones

METROPOLIS, Ill. - Even as he takes in what is left of his church, the church he was helping to re-build, Paul McCormick has a unique attitude.

Weaver Creek Baptist Church, formerly Upper Salem Baptist Church, was damaged Monday afternoon. Paducah's National Weather Service says a micro burst likely touched down. In the process, the church still being rebuilt from a fire, was flattened.

"I am so grateful to God," he admitted.

It is because his 18-year-old daughter and four others were inside minutes before powerful winds destroyed what was to be the new church.

"Just no sooner did they get home did the building hit the ground," he said, his voice choked with emotion.

"The reality I could have lost my kids and friends is very hard," he continued.

Shawn Vandergriff, was the pastor when fire ripped through the sanctuary last spring. He says the congregation was looking forward to coming home. This latest obstacle, he believes, will make his congregation even stronger.

"I want people to be able to look at the Bible verse and say,'I believe that because I lived it.' I'm totally convinced God can turn this around."

But Paul McCormick says he doesn't need a Bible verse or even a church to live his faith.

"The building may be gone, but we're still here. The church is in us, not this building," he said.

Since that May 2012 fire, the congregation has been worshiping at the nearby Weaver Creek Baptist Church and the congregations have merged. The church that was damaged was to be a worship place for the new congregation.

The building was not insured. Anyone looking to make a donation can make a donation at one of the two Metropolis locations of 'City National Bank.' Donors are asked to mention the 'Upper Salem Baptist Church Account.'