Portland6_inlinePORTLAND, Mich.—As cleanup of First Baptist Church enters the third day, the church is grateful for volunteers who have offered their assistance. First Baptist Church was severely damaged when an EF-1 tornado touched down in the Portland area Monday afternoon, June 22. Winds reached 100 miles per hour.

“Words and photos cannot explain the real amount of devastation in this quaint town along the Grand River,” says Carrie Thomas of First Baptist Church, Lowell, Michigan. “From the amount of destruction, it is a real miracle no one was seriously injured or killed.”

Realizing the magnitude of the task ahead, Baptist Builders Club and the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches requested assistance from nearby congregations. Members of First Baptist in Lowell eagerly responded, arriving on the scene yesterday to begin working.

Pastor Jon Pickens and Herb Whorley operated chainsaws. Lynn Green, Scott Zalis, Brayden Race, Caleb Pickens, and Carrie and Karl Thomas loaded debris onto trucks and trailers. Also involved are Michael Nolan, director of Baptist Builders Club; Ken Floyd, state representative of the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches and chairman of the GARBC Council of Eighteen; Bret VanHorn, a Portland firefighter; and members of the Portland congregation.

Outside, volunteers have been picking up debris and removing trees. Inside the building, they have been able to remove the organ and are now trying to salvage some of the pews and historical items.

“We were happy to help,” Carrie says, “but sad to see the amount of devastation, not only to the First Baptist of Portland, but the whole community. Three beautiful historic churches were nestled together up on this hilltop. All of them now have very serious structural damages. We hope and pray the light within the hearts of God’s children continues to shine with or without a historic building, bell, or steeple.”