On Friday, March 31, strong thunderstorms led to a tornado that caused major damage and the loss of one life in the Central Arkansas area. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado (rated at the top of the EF3 range with 165 mph peak wind) tracked roughly 32 miles from west Little Rock through North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville (all in Pulaski County) before finally weakening on the south side of Cabot (Lonoke County). Besides the many homes and business damaged, the one death attributed to the storm was in North Little Rock. Later the same day, another tornado caused extensive damage in Wynne and four people lost their lives.
We received word after the storm passed through the area that Park View Baptist Church in North Little Rock was heavily damaged. I reached out their pastor, Dr. Brian Sheppard, and he was doing what he could to assess the situation and determine the best steps as they move forward as a church. He shared, “We covet the prayers of our brothers and sisters during this time. Our building is insured, and we hope to rebuild soon. In the interim, if you would like to financially support us you can do so by visiting parkviewbc.org/give and select ‘Tornado Relief.’” Sheppard concluded by saying, “…We trust the Lord will work this for His good.” Park View met this past Sunday (April 2) on the parking lot of the church property for their services. They have made arrangements to hold their Easter Sunday service in the chapel on the Camp Robinson military base and will look to find other temporary arrangements until they are able to rebuild.
Late Friday night, I received word that another one of our BMA churches, Cherrywood Baptist Church in Sherwood, was also damaged. Glenn Alston, pastor of Cherrywood, shared that they would be assessing the extent of the damage and begin repairs as soon as possible. Most of the damage seems to be to the fellowship hall area of the building. As far as we know, no other BMA churches were damaged by the storms, although some church members were affected.
On Saturday, the day following the storm, many volunteers and church members turned out at both locations to begin the cleanup effort. Each of these churches also looked at this situation as an opportunity to minister to their surrounding communities that were devastated by the storm. Park View began hosting Just the Crumbs disaster relief ministry on Monday, April 3 to provide lunches to all workers and residents of the area. Just the Crumbs plans to set up their full kitchen service at Cherrywood beginning next week. (See tornado relief article for more information.)