After 140-year-old church destroyed in storm, members say they will rebuild

TAPPAHANNOCK, Va (WRIC) — Standing in front of the remains of St. John’s Baptist Church in Tappahanock, you can see debris everywhere. The church, which has been standing for over 140 years, was completely destroyed after an EF-4 tornado blew through the town.

Friday, in the aftermath of Wednesday’s deadly tornadoes, church members and volunteers were out all day picking up the pieces where their historic church once stood.

The Red Cross is also assisting in relief efforts in the area as the congregation figures out how to move forward.

Ethel Jackson, a St. John’s Baptist church member, says she is having a difficult time facing the destruction.

“It’s just so hard to see a church here been sitting here for 140 some years, and for something like this to happen,” Jackson said. “It’s just so hard, it just brings tears to your eyes.”

Ivory Barnes, another church member, has relatives buried in the cemetery near the church.

“It breaks my heart,” Barnes said. “It’s is just heartbreaking to see this church like this. My mom, dad, and brother is in this cemetery behind me, and all those trees that used to keep their shade that I was so proud of, are now gone.”

Friday night, church members held a meeting about what the next steps will be in moving forward.

Sandra Payne, the church clerk, says St. John’s will be rebuilt.

“Of course, we plan to rebuild,” Payne said. “We just don’t know what our steps will be yet.”

For complete tornado aftermath coverage, click here.

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