It was the seventh day since the powerful storm had roared through their neighborhood, blamed for deaths, destroyed and heavily damaged homes, and utter disruption of life on the quiet back roads of Gloucester County.
Beech Grove, itself only lightly damaged, threw open its social hall for a community lunch and its sanctuary for anyone needing a time of prayer and reflection. Church members went door-to-door to invite residents and cleanup workers to the event, and provided fried chicken, deviled eggs, a pile of desserts and other foods.
Members of Petsworth Baptist and Bellamy United Methodist churches, not far from the tornado zone, pitched in to supply cakes, beans, macaroni salad and beverages.
A number of Gloucester County businesses donated a huge supply of food: Kelsick Specialty Market, chicken salad and two hams; Nick’s Restaurant, spaghetti and sauce; Wild Rabbit, zucchini bread loaves; Farm Fresh, ham biscuits; Jessica’s Sweet Shop, pastry trays; and an unnamed friend of a church member dropped off trays of doughnuts.
Just before noon, Beech Grove pastor Bob Robbins welcomed the church workers, those present joined hands, and Petsworth pastor David Edgell led a blessing acknowledging that things of the world "are temporal" and thanking the Lord "for reminding us of hope in difficult times … the body of Christ is standing strong."