New London church reflects one year after tornado

Trinity Lutheran Church in New London is damaged by a tornado, Aug. 7, 2013. (Submitted by Julie Squires)

NEW LONDON - A New London church severely damaged by the tornado commemorated the anniversary this evening.

"It has been an amazing journey we've been on,” said Pastor Bil Sutlief.

As he did one year ago, Pastor Bil Sutlief gathered his faithful once again in the parking lot of Trinity Lutheran Church.

"A year ago we were outside worshipping in the parking lot with the devastation as our back drop. Tonight, we're outside up closer to the building having a chance to worship with the newness of the building as our backdrop,” said Sutlief.

A year ago a tornado tore through New London and the church.

“I think back to when I got that phone call to come up here on the Wednesday morning around 6 am. I live four houses down. I was just stunned as I came up and I was just crushed,” said Patty Dyerson, a Sunday school teacher.

But now, the church members say they're filled with joy to see the handwork construction crews and kind hearts in the community have made.

“It was just a blessing to be here a year later,” said Dyerson.

“It's exciting in a sense that a year later, we can see all that has been accomplished,” said Sutlief.
Sutlief says most of the building was salvaged.

“We have one section of the roof above us where we're standing here. This section was totally removed,” said Sutlief.

The renovations were expected to take more than a year. But the faithful were back in the pews before Easter.

“We experienced a whole new sense of Easter,” said Sutlief.

Sutlief says the whole process has brought his church community closer, as they've learned to persevere.

“I have a whole new perspective on god walking with us through the midst of life and all that life can throw at us,” said Sutlief.

Believing even in the middle of a disaster, they were never alone.