It’s been nearly a year since a tornado destroyed a church in Chesapeake.
Now, the church is being rebuilt and its congregation is being transformed.
Brett Coates, the executive director of Real Life Christian Church, remembered being on his way to the church the night of March 31, 2017, after getting calls from the security company that alarms were going off.
“In some ways it’s been a long time and in some ways it’s been a short amount of time,” he said about their whirlwind year.
A new building is under construction at the original site of the church on Centreville Turnpike North.
Coates said it’s slightly bigger and they’re eager to move in at the end of the year.
“We’re excited about the new building, but we don’t want to be building centric. I think that’s the biggest thing we’ve learned this past year,” he said.
Coates believes the congregation has been transformed because of the destruction.
He thinks they’re more focused on helping people.
Drew Froese, the church’s lead pastor, agreed.
Froese, who was in the interview process to become lead pastor when the tornado hit, said he was drawn to the church because of the congregation’s faith and determination.
Last year, members passed out gift cards to homeowners who were also affected by the tornado.
“We can’t look at a building and say the church is destroyed. That’s a lie. The church isn’t destroyed. A building is destroyed. The church is God’s people and doing his work,” he said.
Services are currently being held at Atlantic Shores Christian School.
“Throughout the time, God has provided, provided, provided, and we’ve never missed a beat,” Froese said.
Another service will be held this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. to reflect on the congregation’s year since the tornado.
“We could sit back and mope and complain about where we are or we could come together and worship and that’s what we’re going to do,” Coates said.
The church is also hosting an RL Services day on April 21.
That will include helping to fix up homes, softball fields and more.