Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Bible survives Davis sanctuary collapse


by chris schutz

Stepping carefully across the rubble and broken stained glass left by a destructive storm, a helper emerged with precious cargo and handed it to Sue Harshaw — her Bible.

She had left it on a pew behind the pulpit before the storm hit Davis-First United Methodist Church, where her husband pastors.

The storm the night of April 26 destroyed the sanctuary and caused an estimated $780,000 in damage.

"I didn’t realize I didn’t have my Bible until this morning," Sue said the next day. "I knew I could never replace it."

When the book was put back in her hands, "I got really teary-eyed," she said. It has "notes, everything you put in a Bible." She’s had it about 25 years.

And now it’s survived two major disasters — a fire and the destruction of the Davis sanctuary.

The Sunday after the storm, the congregation worshipped outside, with a flatbed trailer serving as a stage, Steve Harshaw said. "The wind was a little cool, but it wasn’t bad."

Structural engineers have determined the fellowship hall and educational wing are safe to use, he said. Going forward, services will be in the fellowship hall until the sanctuary is rebuilt.

Church leaders were told the damage to the sanctuary was caused by 90 mph straight-line winds, Steve said.

They’ve been asked to list all that was lost or destroyed. Steve, who has been pastor at Davis for two years, said, "Making a list of that is going to be very difficult."

Before the storm, First UMC had been planning a building expansion. That plan is being revised, Steve said. Under consideration, in addition to a new sanctuary, had been adding a children’s area and relocating restrooms and offices.

The pastor estimates restoring the church will take 18 months to two years.


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Salvage work begins among the pews April 27 in Davis-First United Methodist Church. The sanctuary roof fell in a wind storm, but some furnishings and books remained intact.

Photo by Andrew Himes


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