RINGGOLD, CATOOSA COUNTY (WRCB) – The crunching sounds of wood from the now-destroyed Mount Peria Baptist Church in Ringgold, Georgia is a grim reminder of the deadly tornado that ripped through the area more than a month ago.
George Garner said, "I have never seen so much devastation, especially on the other side of the mountain. We have a project there and it is unbelievable. I have never seen anything like it in my life."
Garner traveled nearly nine hours from Red Oak, North Carolina, to help storm victims in the area.
His group, aptly named, "Men on a Mission," had plans to level what's left of the century old community staple.
But losing the church building has only made the pastor stronger.
Pastor Jimmy Ingram said, "It hurt but people won't let us cry. They have been tremendous and overwhelming. They bend over backwards and people have been coming from everywhere."
The church pews were the only things salvageable after the storm.
Pastor Ingram says he wasn't sure how he would rebuild, that was until Garner caught word of what happened.
Word of mouth traveled some 500 miles to Ringgold, bringing with it bulldozers and dozens of hands to help.
Garner said, "Hey, you give a little and the lord helps you."
But Pastor Ingram says the "little" equals a lot in this case.
"Our heart goes out to them," he said. "It has been such thoughtfulness from them."
TUESDAY 3:00 PM
A devastated church is getting some much needed help from a group of strangers.
Mt. Peria Baptist Church has stood in the same spot on Sparks Street in Ringgold for the last 105 years.
That is, until a tornado destroyed the church, and much of Ringgold on April 27th.
George Garner was back home in Red Oak, North Carolina, when he heard about the destruction across the South. He didn't know anyone in Ringgold. He had never been to the North Georgia town.
But he knew he and the other members of his group, "Men on a Mission" needed to help. So they packed up their things and made the eight and half hour drive to Georgia.
That's when they first saw Mt. Peria church and met Pastor Jimmy Ingram and offered to help.
The "Men on a Mission" were actually able to save a few items from the old church; a pew here, a hymnal there.
All of which will find a new home when Mt. Peria rebuilds.
After carefully shifting through what was left of the church, George and the Men came in with bulldozers and raze the ruins.
Many parishioners say they're sad to see the church home they grew up in - that their parents and grandparents grew up in – brought to the ground. But all say it's a new beginning for the old church.
Pastor Ingram says he plans to build a new Mt. Peria Baptist Church, right in the footsteps of the old Mt. Peria church.
After all, as Pastor Ingram says, "home is where the heart is."
A home that will grow anew, thanks to a group of strangers with the heart to help.