Congregation remembers 20 years since tornado tragedy

PIEDMONT, Ala. (WIAT) — On morning of March 27, 1994, members of Goshen United Methodist Church were putting on a Palm Sunday performance.

“We knew that it was going to be a little bit stormy, but we had a musical performance to do,” said former Goshen UMC pastor Kelly Clem.

Nearly halfway through the performance, the glass window started shattering. Moments later, the roof was lifted off the building and fell on the congregation.

Walls collapsed with the roof.

Both of Clem’s daughters were in the church at the time.

“My daughter, Hanna, and two other little girls ran towards us, away from the wall that fell down first,” Clem said. “I was running towards here because I knew right where she was. And then the next thing we knew it was just all over.”

Now there is a memorial site at the former location for Goshen United Methodist Church, where every person who was in the church that day is listed on plaques around the footing of the original church.

There are also Dogwood trees planted for every person who died that day.

Four-year-old Hanna Clem was killed. Her younger sister, Sarah, was safe in the arms of trusted family friends.

“They just kind of held her safe,” Clem said. “And the family front of them, they were all killed.”

As a grief-stricken mother and pastor, Clem recalls looking down at the rubble, seeing her robe and asking for strength from above.

“Today is about thanking God for getting us through this,” Clem said.

2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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