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Arkansas Church Destroyed by Powerful Tornado

First Assembly of God in Jacksonville, Arkansas, was torn apart by a powerful EF3 tornado Friday -- Convoy of Hope partnering with churches to respond to this and additional extensive tornado damage in the Midwest.

First Assembly of God in Jacksonville, Arkansas, suffered extreme damages when it was struck by a “high-end” EF3 tornado Friday, with winds up to 165 mph, that tore much of the building into shredded lumber, collapsed brick walls, and deposited a portion of the building onto the street.

“A tornado came through our area and completely and totally took out our facility,” states pastor Brennan Ayers in a video post. “It destroyed the building, but it did not destroy the Church . . . no one in the church was injured and there were no fatalities. So, we thank God for that . . . Karen and I are brokenhearted for this loss and we have shed our tears . . ., but we are looking for the God of all hope to give us hope and to give us a future.”

“It’s a total loss,” confirms Donna Hayward, assistant to Arkansas AG District Council Superintendent Ronnie Moore. “However, McArthur Assembly in Jacksonville opened their gymnasium to pastor Brennan and the church to have services Sunday.”

“The tornado cut a path between two AG churches in Little Rock — Wellington Village AG and Trinity Assembly of God — but neither church experienced damage,” Hayward adds.

As noted, Little Rock was also hit by a powerful and deadly tornado on Friday. Hayward says that Convoy of Hope is staging at First AG in North Little Rock for disaster relief and recovery in Little Rock and have also set up a location in Jacksonville. The Assemblies of God churches in Wynne, Arkansas, located just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, are also working with Convoy to provide relief to survivors.

So far, the networks and districts of Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana, and Oklahoma (wildfire) have not reported any churches being damaged, though many churches are involved in the relief efforts. However, Covington (Tennessee) AG’s pastor, Ed Hawkins, lost his home when it took a “direct hit” by a tornado over the weekend.

Carl Lamb, who works with Convoy of Hope, says that he has contacted churches from where a tornado entered southern Illinois and then struck communities up into the Indianapolis area. At this point, he’s unaware of any AG churches experiencing significant damage, but he notes many of the churches in the areas hit are responding to help meet the needs of survivors.

According to Ethan Forhetz, national spokesperson for the Convoy of Hope, by 8 p.m. Friday night, just hours after the tornadoes struck in Arkansas, a Disaster Services team with relief supplies was already enroute, with other COH teams standing by as the storm system proceeded northeast. Meanwhile, COH is still providing relief for survivors of the Mississippi tornadoes that struck just a week prior to this outbreak.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.