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Oneonta church shifts missions trip after tornadocomment (0)

August 13, 2009

By Jeremy Henderson

It was 9:10 p.m. April 19 and it was over before she had time to be scared. She heard the siren. She heard a rumble. She went into the hallway and then her bedroom closet. When she stepped out, she didn’t have a house.

Thankfully she still had a church.

And when news spread about what had happened to Ernestine Dickie, a member of Straight Mountain Baptist Church, Oneonta, for more than 50 years, the tiny Friendship Baptist Association congregation had a decision to make: Would it stay or would it go?

“Our church had put together a project to go down to the Mississippi coast to help rebuild some of the Katrina stuff,” said Bob Paul, a member of Straight Mountain Baptist. “Then that tornado came through Blount County.”

Paul said while the tornado almost took out the church, it completely tore up Dickie’s house.

“So we shifted and sort of delayed going down to the coast and rebuilt her home for her,” he said.

Pastor Charlie Alldredge said the decision was simple.

“We had no real choice,” he said. “The Bible says they started in Jerusalem and went out to Samaria so we took that literally. We’re planning on a later time to go down to Mississippi, but right now, we just felt we were meant to stay at home and work.”

And Straight Mountain Baptist got a little help from its friends.

On June 8, a crew of 28 men from Straight Mountain Baptist, other Friendship Association churches — Fowler Springs Baptist, Blountsville, and Center Springs Baptist, Trafford — and the Hayden area started rebuilding Dickie’s house. The goal was to complete the framing and install the roof in one week — the same amount of time originally slated for Straight Mountain Baptist’s missions work in Mississippi.

“This became our missions project,” Paul said. “It’s the first this church has ever done.”

The volunteers met early in the morning and worked all day, stopping only for prayer and meals provided by a group of women from Straight Mountain Baptist led by Paul’s wife, Eudelle.

On day seven, they nailed the roof decking in place.

“In our community, neighbors help neighbors but there’s never been anything this big that I can remember that has taken place,” said Dickie, who has been staying in a friend’s nearby, unused house since the tornado.

She hopes to be in her new home within three months; a group from Locust Fork Baptist Church has volunteered to install Sheetrock when the three bedroom, two bath and one storm-shelter house is ready for finishing and trim work.

“I just count my blessings every day,” Dickie said. “I could have been taken away with the house, but the good Lord wasn’t through with me. I’m just thankful for what people have done every day.”

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