Sgt. Terrence Hambrick, Walker County sheriff’s deputy and school resource officer for Gilbert Elementary, still remembers the date he felt the call to lead Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Adairsville.
“It was April 8, 1997,” he said. “I was called down there to come and preach, and I guess they liked what they heard.”
Ever since that date, he has worked hard to grow a congregation of approximately 100 who would meet regularly to hear him speak in a small church built in 1910.
Now, however, the tornado and devastating straight-line winds that tore through Adairsville on Jan. 30, 2013, have rendered the historic building all but destroyed.
In the aftermath of the storm, Hambrick and his church members found their building in a sorry state; portions of the roof had collapsed, the foundation had shifted and the entire church was bowed outward in places.
“Windows knocked out, the siding was off – as a matter of fact it was across the street in one of the neighbor’s trees, some of the siding,” said Hambrick. “It was totaled. We’re rebuilding from the ground up. It destroyed the whole church.”
Two bits of luck prevailed in the storm, however.
“None of the members’ homes were damaged,” said Hambrick. “It’s amazing. There were homes damaged down there, but none of our members’. But homes were damaged. It’s terrible down there.”
Also, the church was completely covered by insurance, negating what would have otherwise been a devastating cost. The insurance company declared the damage too great for repairs, instead necessitating a complete demolition and rebuilding.
The church is going to remake what it had, without too many changes or upgrades. “It’s going to be a little bit bigger,” said Hambrick. “We plan on building back basically what we had. It was adequate.”
The old building will not be forgotten, however, and small memorials to the original structure are already planned.
“We took some of the old wood and we’re going to make a cross out of it and have it on the side (of the church),” said Hambrick, “and we’re going to take a piece of the old wood and put it in a shadowbox and put it in the fellowship hall, showing a piece of the old church and then the new church.”
Volunteers from the Adairsville community and beyond have come out to help in the effort. Already the destroyed building has been razed to the ground, and construction is beginning on its replacement.
“We plan on being back in it by the end of May,” said Hambrick.
The Walker County deputy is amazed at the number of people who have turned out to make that happen.
“Mt. Peria (Baptist Church) was down there, the one that two years ago, their church was destroyed in the tornado.” The Ringgold-based church sympathized with the plight of Hambrick’s fellowship and immediately offered to come help.
Organizations such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Georgia Missionary Baptist Convention disaster relief group have proven invaluable as well.
“There’s people from all over the country that’s there,” said Hambrick. “Missionaries from North Carolina. It’s amazing, the people that are coming forth to help.
“We’re all going to be doing it together,” he said. “The community’s coming together. That’s what makes it good. We can put aside our different beliefs and have one common cause, that’s to help brothers and sisters in need.”
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Adairsville is still accepting donations and volunteers.
To send a monetary donation to the church, please write to:
Attn: Glenda Duvall
United Community Bank
PO Box 405
Adairsville, GA 30103
Please make all checks to Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, with “building fund” in the memo line.
To volunteer in the rebuilding effort, contact Terrence Hambrick at 706-506-0778.