Pastor Ryan Rosser said he is currently awaiting word from structural engineers to see if the nearly 100-year-old structure can be repaired or must be rebuilt.
Either way, the church body has proven to be more resilient in a storm than the church building.
“We are growing together in love, and we look forward to what God is going to do in the future,” Rosser said.
The church, a local landmark named for Cordova founder Benjamin Long, was open on April 27.
Rosser said a family who recently began attending services regularly asked that morning if they could seek shelter in the church basement during a day-long string of bad weather.
Although an early storm damaged several buildings on Main Street, the church was not affected.
Approximately a dozen people, including assistant city clerk Leanne Dawkins and several members of her family, had gathered in the basement by the time a massive tornado was bearing down on the city Wednesday afternoon.
A group of AT&T workers who were attempting to restore power lost during the first storm joined them minutes before the tornado struck.
“Some of the men had been looking outside. They came running in and said, ‘It’s coming,’” Dawkins said.
When the wind picked up, the group saw debris flying in front of the basement’s glass windows.
They quickly covered their heads as the basement ceiling, which was the floor of the sanctuary, lifted above them. Columns cracked and dust filled the air as the tornado passed on to other areas of town.
The group could not escape for several minutes because the roof of the church had fallen in front of their only exit. The AT&T crew pushed aside enough of the debris that everyone could get out.
Dawkins said that when she emerged, she first saw the damage that had been done to the Long House across the street. Next, she noticed that Haskett Memorial Clinic had been leveled on a neighboring hilltop.
Only then did she realize what had happened to the church.
Dawkins said there are no words to describe how downtown Cordova looked in the aftermath of the tornado.
“It was just gone,” she said.
Rosser said many people in the town have been emotional about the loss of the church.
Services are currently being held on Highway 69 at William’s Chapel United Methodist Church, which Rosser also pastors.
Rosser said the Long Memorial congregation has been received with open arms at their sister church, but they are also looking forward to the day that they reunite in their own sanctuary.
“There’s still a lot of brokenness over it, but they’re beginning to lift their heads and trust that the Lord is going to make it new and do a good work in it,” Rosser said.