Tennessee Tornadoes Spare Episcopal Churches

By Kirk Petersen

The Diocese of Tennessee reports that none of the Episcopal churches in the Nashville area were damaged by the deadly tornadoes that swept through the area in the early-morning darkness on March 3.

The same cannot be said for nearby churches from other denominations, nor for the neighborhoods around them. The Rt. Rev. John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee, wrote in a letter to the diocese: “Loss of life is significant, particularly in Putnam County, and likely to increase as the missing are recovered or accounted for. We mourn for those who have been lost. Please pray for those who have died and for those who are grieving, as well as for those most heavily impacted by the storms.”

The death toll as of March 6 stood at 24, and entire neighborhoods were destroyed. President Trump declared the event a major disaster, which makes a variety of federal support available.

The people of St. Ann’s Episcopal in East Nashville are thankful that they avoided a repeat of the 1998 tornado that destroyed the historic church. In that storm, the rector and her children weathered the storm in the church basement, then emerged to find that the roof and the walls on three sides had collapsed.

The diocese is maintaining a web page, which is updated daily, describing the relief efforts under way. The Diocese of Tennessee, based in Nashville, encompasses about the middle third of the state; there is also a Diocese of West Tennessee and of East Tennessee, both of which split off in the 1980s.


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