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Cullman’s Seventh Street stands tall after tornadocomment (0)

June 16, 2011

By Julie Moore

Eleven majestic oak trees that once towered over Seventh Street Baptist Church, Cullman, are no more. Entire areas of Cullman that were not long ago teeming with massive oaks now display a significantly altered, sparser landscape.

“The whole skyline has changed,” said Debi Brannan, secretary for Seventh Street Baptist.

Brannan and another church member were in the building April 27 as one of the many Alabama tornadoes barreled through the city. Thankfully both women remained unharmed as they waited out the storm.

“God was looking out for us here,” Brannan said.

While the West Cullman Baptist Association church was established in the late 1800s, its current building was constructed in the early 1950s. It received extensive structural damage — though not as extensive as the damage suffered at some other area Baptist churches — totaling somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000 based on State Farm estimates. In spite of that, Brannan reported it is still “business as usual” at the church and the congregation is able to continue weekly worship.

According to Pastor Kerry Cleghorn, one of the hardest hit sections of the building was the gymnasium. He said the roof must now be replaced. The gym will not be used for several more months until all needed testing and repairs are complete.

The sanctuary roof also was damaged, and some of the sanctuary’s stained glass windows were cracked.

The outdoor playground was heavily damaged and littered by storm debris, but it was repaired in time for the early June Vacation Bible School.

Cleghorn said since the trees all fell northward, they did not harm the building. The obliteration of the beautiful oaks on campus was a loss to the congregation and touched many, including Minister of Music Jethro Harbison, who penned a remembrance, “Good Bye, Mighty Oaks, Gifts of God.”

“You who have been not fleeting friends but who have stood tall and strong through many storms and recovered to take on life anew, providing a lesson to us who have gathered here through the years to worship and fellowship, sometimes to face our own storms and challenges ... May we be inspired to seek lives of grace and strength and service, standing tall and strong to face life’s storms and to fulfill God’s purpose as you did. We are grateful to Him for sharing you with us for so many years.”

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