Storm victims, volunteers gather at Beech Grove for reflection and a meal

by Elsa Cooke Verbyla - Posted on Apr 27, 2011 - 04:33 PM

Photo: etsworth Baptist Church pastor David Edgell, third from right, leads a blessing before the storm-recovery lunch given Friday in Coke by members of Beech Grove Baptist Church. Bob Robbins, pastor of Beech Grove, stands at center right. Photo by Elsa Cooke Verbyla.

etsworth Baptist Church pastor David Edgell, third from right, leads a blessing before the storm-recovery lunch given Friday in Coke by members of Beech Grove Baptist Church. Bob Robbins, pastor of Beech Grove, stands at center right. Photo by Elsa Cooke Verbyla.

At noon on Good Friday, the darkest hour of the Christian year signifying the crucifixion of Jesus, the people of Beech Grove Baptist Church in Coke were working to resurrect the spirits and energy of their tornado-stricken neighbors.

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."