Victims of church bus crash remembered one year later

Published: .
Updated: .
Members of an Indianapolis church gathered for a service on the anniversary of a deadly bus crash.

The choir sang songs of praise and thanks. The gathering at Colonial Hills Baptist Church was no ordinary memorial service.  
"We've had someone coin the phrase 'trage-tunity' - a tragedy and an opportunity," explained Deacon Jeff Leffew. "It's an opportunity for us to, obviously, remember Chad and Courtney and their unborn little daughter and Tonya Weindorf and their lives and the life that they lived and the faith that they lived. So it's a celebration of who they were. It's an opportunity for us to also thank the community. This has been an amazing year where the community has really...they reached out to us in a big way."

But there is sadness.

Youth pastor Chad Phelps, wife Courtney and their unborn daughter, along with church member Tonya Weindorf, all died in the bus crash on July 27, 2013. More than two dozen were injured.

But this church is resting on their faith and they want to set an example.  

"We've tried to embrace the fact that this is an opportunity to both grow individually, but to also show others that the God that we love and the God that has changed our lives is able to help us go through difficulties like this," said Leffew.  

Those who died, church members say, did so doing something they loved - church ministry to young people.  

"There's no doubt that there are people that are hurting, but our prayer is that pain will subside just a little bit more each day," said Leffew. "We certainly are sobered by the fact that each day is precious and we're a little more in tune with how we live each day, because we know there is no promise for tomorrow." 

A church community who has changed, hoping what they experienced has changed others as well.  

The church is also trying to raise funds for a new bus. So far, they have raised $45,000 of the $100,000 needed for that bus.