Rev. Robert Gavin, the pastor of Springfield M.B. Church on Highway 45 South, on Tuesday looks at what is left of the church following Monday’s storms. Mary Gavin, his wife, came with him to see the damage. Photo by: William Browning/Dispatch Staff
April 30, 2014 10:51:47 AM
A tornado completely destroyed Springfield M.B. Church on Monday.
It had stood for nearly 150 years in a field on the east side of Highway 45 South, down toward Macon. A small, old cemetery is behind it. A large limb that had snapped off of a nearby oak tree laid through the headstones.
Where the church once was is now only rubble. Everything seems to have fallen toward the north when the storm came through. Bricks and paneling are strewn about.
The only thing left entirely intact by the tornado's winds is a wooden cross adorned with a purple sash near where the front entrance once stood.
The Rev. Robert Gavin has served as pastor for about three years. It's a small congregation.
Gavin learned about the destruction not long after it happened around 6 p.m. Monday. A church trustee knows a Lowndes County deputy, who happened to pass by and saw what had happened, and the word spread.
"They said, 'The church is flat,'" Gavin said.
On Tuesday just after lunch he came to see what was left. His wife, Mary Gavin, came along. They hoped to retrieve from the destruction, if nothing else, Robert Gavin's preaching license, which he said he got in 1989, and his ordination license, which he said he got in 2004.
They parked out front.
They walked around the south side of the church looking at the destruction.
They took it as well as they could.
Robert Gavin got to the back of the church, where his office once stood, and a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. that had hung on a wall was laying there. He got it. He also picked up a tiny plaque inscribed with The Lord's Prayer. And an unframed and dog-eared picture of he and his wife.
He looked hard at the back of the church. He took in how complete the damage was and said to his wife, "I don't think we got a chance of getting those licenses."
Gavin explained how the church originated in the hands of freed slaves. He hopes enough money can be raised to rebuild. He has told his congregation to find another church in the meantime. And he mentioned how the church only meets on the first and third Sunday of each month.
Then he looked toward the darkening sky and said they should not stay long, as bad weather was expected again.
Mary Gavin said, "We just didn't know Easter would be our last service."
Robert Gavin said his message on that Sunday, like on every Easter, was on the Resurrection.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.
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