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Tennessee Tornado Tears Roof from Church, But True Tragedy Avoided by Minutes

Only 30 minutes before an EF-2 tornado struck Red River Assembly, there were still people departing from a memorial service held earlier that afternoon.

When an EF-2 tornado ripped through Springfield, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon, it peeled the roof off the Red River Assembly sanctuary, allowing the hard-driven rain to damage and/or destroy the sub-ceiling, instruments, sound equipment, computers, projectors, and anything else not water resistant. But pastor Buddy Hagerman and his wife, Tracy, are counting their blessings.

“We had a memorial service at the church that afternoon,” Tracy says. “We had 132 people there. We left the church at 3:48 and it was 4:15 when the tornado hit.”

The Hagermans, who have been serving at Red River for 25 years in a variety of roles, including Buddy being lead pastor the past five years, say the fact that no one was still at the church when the tornado struck was a “wonderful blessing from the Lord.”

Having worked with three other churches in the community, there were no shortages of churches offering their facilities for the Red River congregation to either use or to join with them. Tracy says for at least this week and Christmas weekend, Red River will be joining together with another congregation for services.

The Tennessee Ministry Network office has reported Red River being the only AG church suffering damage due to the tornadoes. Currently the insurance company is still preparing estimates on the loss, but the church has been tarped so work can begin on the interior as soon as insurance gives the ok.

The communities of Clarksville, located about 30 miles west of Springfield, and Hendersonville, located about 25 miles southeast of Springfield, were also hit hard by tornadoes.

According to Ethan Forhetz, national spokesperson for Convoy of Hope, the compassion organization was on site and distributing relief supplies by the next morning.

“Our team was on the ground less than 12 hours after the tornadoes hit and has been distributing relief supplies since,” he stated.

According to a Convoy of Hope press release, “Multiple loads of relief supplies have already arrived, and more loads are on the way. Each tractor-trailer that arrives is filled with the food, water, and relief supplies survivors of the storms will be looking for as they look to recover.”


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.