‘Show off the scars’: East End UMC embraces tornado damage in rebuild

Nashville Tornado

EAST NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Building a solid house of faith is the foundation for East End United Methodist Church.

“If there’s a group that’s made to weather a storm like this, it’s this group,” said Pastor Scott Marshall-Kimball.

The church parish is known for welcoming everyone, especially those who are broken looking to rebuild. The structure, now a visual metaphor for transformation underway in East Nashville.

“As we were walking around,” said News 2 Anchor Alex Denis, “You took a deep breath and said ‘Oh, WOW!’ What were you thinking?”

“Well, this was my first time on this part of the grounds since the tornado,” responded Joe Lee.

He has spent the last 18 years as the Director of Music Ministries. The memory of March 3rd is still fresh. The first place he visited that day was the choir room.

“Water was dripping all around me, instruments were strewn everywhere, and I was literally weeping,” Lee remembered.

Before greif could fully set in, COVID-19 took hold.

“Trying to rebuild a church in the middle of a pandemic is quite a challenge,” explained Marshall-Kimball.

Virtual gatherings became the norm from music rehearsals to Sunday services.

“We discovered new ways to be together,” Lee said, “We discovered new ways to be the church in the community.”

Which included lending a hand, when the church itself was still rubble. “We gave grants to people in the community of around $30,000,” says Pastor Marshall-Kimball.

Now the time has come for East End to rebuild. “We’re going to have things that show off the scars that this tornado gave to the building in a beautiful way because that is what I think God’s grace can do with us,” Marshall-Kimball explained. “We can come into a place and be broke, and we can find God and beauty in those places.”

“What you see behind you has been a beacon on this hill for 135 years, and what we’re going to do now is going to allow us to be a beacon on this hill for another 135 years,” echoed Lee.

As the church reviews renderings and starts to move forward, there is a financial gap between the insurance and FEMA payout and the total construction bill.

If you would like to help the church, click HERE.

See how hope has overcome heartbreak across the area. News 2 brings you special reports Tennessee Stronger: A Year of Recovery all day Wednesday in every newscast and on WKRN.com.

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