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Tuscaloosa’s Calvary Baptist adopts 108th family after April 2011 tornadoescomment (0)

April 12, 2012

By Julie Payne

Tuscaloosa’s Calvary Baptist adopts 108th family after April 2011 tornadoes

After a powerful EF4 tornado with 190 mph winds tore through Tuscaloosa on April 27 and destroyed entire areas of the city, Calvary Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, adopted 25 families displaced by the storm. And what began as an outreach to those families has significantly increased in its impact since last year.

When the tornado obliterated about half of the Rosedale Court public housing complex, church members knew quickly it was an area for them to assist. They had ministered there previously through Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s Hope Initiative.

As displaced residents moved into new housing units, Calvary Baptist Sunday School classes and small groups came alongside 25 of those families and committed to furnish interiors with both new and gently used items. In the process, meaningful relationships were established. 

“We didn’t want [those who received assistance] to feel some sort of obligation to us,” explained Kendra Watson, Calvary Baptist’s communications coordinator and ministry assistant. “We just wanted them to know that people cared about them and it was a no strings attached gift from us.”

Word about the church’s effort spread in the community and additional donations resulted. Other churches partnered with Calvary, paving the way for the adoptions to continue. 

The church assisted the 108th family on March 15. Watson said the journey was an “all hands on deck” effort — from church members donating furniture to cleaning, organizing and making deliveries. 

Once the church received word that a family was ready for its furniture delivery, Watson said “the Calvary” was called and people arrived with trucks and trailers.

One church member involved in the moving efforts since the beginning, Billy Hatmaker, grew up in Rosedale Court and moved back to Tuscaloosa for retirement. He said when the tornado came through, “it brought people together in a way that many in the city had not seen before.” 

God’s provision throughout this ministry endeavor has been so evident to Hatmaker, he began writing down the “amazing things” God has done. 

Hatmaker said many people volunteered to help after the tornado, but those numbers soon dwindled as people returned to work. “It came down to just a handful of folks helping,” he shared. 

One particular day, furniture was ready to deliver but not enough workers were present to make the deliveries. Hatmaker said a prayer asking God to provide. Moments after finishing that prayer, he received a call from The University of Alabama School of Law. The caller said a group at the school attending an alumni convocation wanted to help with relief efforts. When Hatmaker said he needed 15 people, the group was ready to work within minutes.

According to Watson, Calvary Baptist is different because of this ministry effort, and the church is examining ways it can have a continued physical presence in the community.

One example of that continued presence is through the church’s Rehab/Repair Ministry, which was already in place before April 27. 

The ministry consists of men from Calvary Baptist and other Tuscaloosa-area churches who receive referrals and make repairs to homes and other buildings. “That ministry was born out of realizing what needs … were out there,” Watson noted. 

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