SALADO, Texas — Reduced to a little more than the cement slab upon which it once stood, the First Cedar Valley Baptist Church still played host to Sunday services in Salado.
And on Easter Sunday, the 200 worshipers, bringing their own lawn chairs to serve as pews, received a promise that their tornado-ravaged building will have its own resurrection, too.
First Cedar Valley Baptist Church was one of two Bell County churches destroyed by a tornado that cut a 13-mile path across the county last week.
And standing amid the rubble of the church he's pastored for decades, Donnie Jackson, with a tear in his eye, told WFAA's Adriana de Alba it was difficult to see.
"Sometimes you want to question why things like this happen," he said. "And the one of the scriptures came to my mind.: "we know all things work together for good."
He pointed out that the piano, partially buried in the rubble, still played. And that a large wooden cross was still fixed firmly to one of the last standing walls.
"This is just a building," he said at the time. "Our church is gonna continue right on."
And Easter Sunday, on the cement slab where the church used to stand, "continue right on" is exactly what they got busy doing.
With the slab swept clean, the rubble pushed off into the field surrounding the church on FM 2843, Jackson preached in front of that same salvaged cross.
And on Easter, you talk miracles and resurrection.
"Immediately, this building is going to be resurrected too," he told the congregation in his sermon. "And that's where we are. We'll immediately start the resurrection of this church."
"I had no doubt in my mind that this is where God wanted us to have it, right here on this slab," Jackson said in an interview with WFAA's sister station KCEN. "This is where the healing starts, the rebuilding, not just of the building, but even of the people starts right here."
Seventy buildings were damaged or destroyed by this one EF-3 tornado, reaching speeds of 165 miles an hour.
Resurrection, in the rebuilding sense, will take some time.
But on Easter Sunday, where hope and new beginnings are always the message, a Baptist pastor will tell you a cement slab in Salado is just maybe the perfect place to be.
"Sometimes it takes something like this to really lead people to a loving church family. And we certainly have one," Jackson said.
"Yes, we had a storm it tore down the church building," he said in his sermon. "But I'm gonna tell you something. It's made the church even stronger."
Jackson says he has been a member of the church since 1942 when it only had dirt floors. The church was insured and Jackson says rebuilding will start as soon as possible.