A church celebrates reopening after a nearly 3-year closure

Published: Mar. 5, 2023 at 8:44 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAKE CITY, Ark. (KAIT) - Refuge Church opened its doors again, nearly three years after it was destroyed.

Pastor Steven Hinkle was at the church with his wife when the remnants of Hurricane Laura came through Arkansas in August of 2020.

“My wife said, ‘I hear the noise, it sounds like it could be a tornado, let’s get in the restroom quick. Within a matter of minutes, the tornado had hit our church,” he said. “When we got out, my wife fell to her knees because she saw that most of our buildings had been destroyed.”

A local church allowed the Refuge congregation to use their building for a while, then they found another place in town. They met there for almost two years.

The history of Refuge Church spans over 120 years. In that time, the church was lost to a fire in 1920, a tornado in 1984, and again in 2020.

Rebuilding is part of their history, but the church was presented with a challenge it hadn’t faced before.

“We had a long wait because of COVID, because of supplies, because of cost changing many times, because of different building codes,” Hinkle said.

The church had to go back to the drawing board a couple of times. Finally, on Sunday, March 5, the church was ready to open its doors again.

The first service wasn’t scheduled until 10:30, but an hour before the service, people were socializing and aweing at their new home.

If there ever was a silver lining in the destruction, it’s that the new building is now connected. Pastor Hinkle said previously, the foyer was separated from the church. Now, both buildings are connected.

He said they wanted to bring elements of its previous building.

“One of them is the stained-glass windows that were in our sanctuary. We have them hung in our family foyer now as an art installation to still remember those that were given to and remind those in the past of part of the building that was there before,” he said.

The new building is a reminder of what the church has overcome.

“We’re overwhelmed with God’s goodness, humbled by what he’s done and what He’s provided for us. It’s not initially what he had planned two and a half years ago, it’s gone through many changes, we got a little less than what we expected but what matters is our people are back home today,” he said.