Members of the Cedar Valley First Baptist Church in Salado gather on an empty slab to celebrate the resurrection Sunday morning.
SALADO, Texas – Across the country, many people gathered for Easter Sunday celebrations and services, including two churches in Salado that do not have a building to gather in after a severe EF 3 tornado left wreaked havoc last Tuesday.
But as they proved today, they don’t need a building, they have their faith and there’s no stopping them.
All that remains here, where the First Cedar Valley Baptist Church stood in Salado, is a cross that was in the hearth and also in the foundation.
“The foundation is still there, but the real foundation is the people,” Pastor Donnie Jackson said.
For the first time since a tornado destroyed the church building, members of First Cedar Valley Baptist Church gathered Sunday morning for Easter services.
“Yeah, we had a storm that tore down the church building and I’ll tell you something – it made the church even stronger,” Jackson said.
Surrounded by destruction as they sing hymns and say their prayers, but as 11-year-old Asa Goodin says, their faith is stronger.
“Nothing will stop the church from happening; it will always happen,” he said.
The Goodin family, along with hundreds of others, gathered on a concrete slab where the walls of the church once stood.
They sat on folding chairs and some even brought their own lawn chairs.
They also had no hymnals, but were able to sing most of their hymns from memory.
Jackson says Sunday’s Easter service was held exactly where it was supposed to be.
“I had no doubt in my mind that this is where God wanted us to have it,” he added. “This is where the healing starts, the rebuilding – not just of the building, but even of the people. It starts here.”
They gathered just in front of the cross, one of the few objects spared by the storm.
“Almost everything in this building was destroyed, but some of the more fragile things survived,” Jackson said.
A few Bibles, an offering box and a plate with a message of hope.
The plaque read: “God be with us as we walk every mile. Our life has a purpose and everything is worth it.”
On Easter Sunday, church members gather to celebrate the resurrection, but for First Cedar Valley Baptist Church, it’s about so much more.
“This building means nothing compared to the cross and what it has done for us,” Jackson told the crowd Sunday morning.
With help from above, members of First Cedar Valley Baptist Church will continue to rejoice.
“Immediately this building is going to be resurrected to be the house of God,” Jackson said.
As the foundation, the people, keep their faith.
The location of future services remains unknown for First Cedar Valley Baptist Church, but officials say they will continue.
A GoFundMe for the church and its cemetery has been created as they seek to rebuild. You can donate here.
On Thursday, Abbott declared a disaster declaration for Bell and Williamson counties due to the destructive tornado, which the National Weather Service said traveled just over 13 miles into Bell County.