Montevallo church picks up the pieces after storm sends tree into sanctuary

MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WIAT) — A strong storm swept through Montevallo on Monday morning, bringing with it strong winds.

The winds eventually brought a large tree crashing squarely into the sanctuary of the Montevallo Presbyterian Church on Shelby Street.

“Insurance calls this an act of God. It’s not. It’s a big wind,” said Dorothy Grimes, a church member.

By that afternoon, a large group of church members had gathered around the church to watch crews lift the tree out of the sanctuary. The workers spent hours chopping the tree into pieces so it can be removed, leaving a cavernous hole framed by splinted wood, crushed stained glass, and smashed pews behind.

“It’s worse than I thought in one sense, in that I just cannot imagine anything being left,” Grimes said.

Fortunately, there is a lot left. Other than the sanctuary, a large portion of the structure did avoid the falling tree. That is good news for repairs going forward.

“We are in between pastors as of last week, so it is strictly up to the property manager, which is me, and the other church members, and we are all pitching in and doing this together,” said Don Clayton, another church member who manages the property.

Starting on Tuesday, Clayton says the ceiling will be outfitted with a large tarp, to prevent any further water damage to the building. From there, they’ll begin the process of working with insurance claims, hoping for a swift start to reconstruction.

“We are a very small church, and it is a tremendous blow to the church, tremendous,” Clayton said.

However, with Easter Sunday less than two weeks away, members of Montevallo Presbyterian Church will not give up. For now, they will hold services at the student center and administrative office building on Vine Street. That will start this week, and they’ll continue until the sanctuary is repaired.

“We’ll learn what resurrection means,” said Grimes.

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