‘We are devastated’: 172-year-old church demolished in storms

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 2:12 PM PDT
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WREN, Miss. (WCBI) – A little white church house in Mississippi that was built 172 years ago was completely demolished during this past weekend’s storms.

The Tranquil United Methodist church was actually hit by a tornado 101 years ago as well and rebuilt in 1922.

Lauren Gillentine King grew up going to the church every Sunday. She said it is devastating to see it in rubble, but that it’s the community that makes the church and not the building.

“It’s kind of amazing,” she said. “There has been a church here since the 1840s, and if I am not wrong, this is the third building on this site. Every time they pick up the pieces, the community’s faith is what holds it together. "

Katie Morgan Oliver’ says her 89-year-old grandmother and 9-year-old daughter are members of the church. She said Tranquil has served as a community home for many generations in Wren.

“It’s the people who have rallied around this church for many many generations,” she said. “It’s the community hub for lack of better things to say. You know if you didn’t have a meeting place, Tranquil’s doors were always open and the tables were always set. "

In 1950, a stained glass window with a cross was put in the front of the building, which served as a landmark to people traveling down Highway 45 and a reminder that their doors are always open.

While the congregation’s numbers have dwindled over the years, pastor Dr. Raymond Roomey is hopeful for the future of Tranquil.

“This morning when we met in one of our member’s shops I told them to cherish and hold on to the memories, trade pictures from the church from before this happened,” he said. “It will always be there, but God has something new for us that we are looking forward to. We are devastated but we are looking forward.”

Although their faith has been tested, the church members still gathered together Sunday to pray and remember what was and what is to come.