Tornado-ravaged congregation vows to rebuild

The Mt. Moriah Baptist church was leveled by the tornado Friday.

A Baptist church in southern Indiana promises to rebuild after being destroyed in Friday's tornado.

A small group of Baptists planted their flag on Mt. Moriah in the 1890s. Their congregation has been small but steady since then.

Pastor Terry Lanous has been at the church for four years. Despite the March 2 storm, he plans to be there for many more.

"God didn't say he would deliver us from storms, he said he'd protect us in 'em," Lanous said. "Our congregation is going to grow, people are going to grow, because we get to see the faithfulness of people. We get to see the faithfulness of God."

After causing widespread damage in Henryville, the tornado swept through a valley, knocking down almost all of the trees, destroying buildings, turning what is usually a quiet country road into a place of chaos.

In the calm after the storm, a group of young men from Ohio looking to help is helping salvage church books and records.

"We're just trying to get all of the books they had. It's a smaller church and it's something of value that they've acquired over time. A lot of knowledge in the books," said Kevin Piper of Dayton, Ohio.

In fact, the books contain 12 decades of knowledge, including the story of how, more than 40 years ago, the church burned down. The congregation rebuilt that time, too.

The current church building has stood in the southern Indiana hills since 1968. Hundreds of people have come through the doors since then, for weddings, funerals, baptisms, or just to be saved.

On the day of the storm of 2012, it saved about a dozen more, who huddled in the basement as the storm approached. One man and his family pulled up about the same time the tornado hit.

"They came around the corner here, pulled up, there was already cars here, ran downstairs and the church blew right over them, right when they walked in," said Lanous.

Last week, the pastor posted "Have you talked to Jesus today?" on the church sign. Now, he says, it seems that Jesus is talking to the church.

"We're not going to quit. I mean, no matter how many times the church gets destroyed, we're coming back," Lanous said. "This will be the third time."

WTHR Cares: Hoosier Tornado Relief