Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Tornado topples two UMC steeples, leaves churches intact


Pastor Gerard Nsabimana of Shawnee Wesley poses with friends and the church’s steeple after it was ripped off in a storm.

An EF2 tornado blazed through Shawnee on April 19, killing three and damaging numerous properties. Two properties affected were United Methodist churches - Shawnee Wesley and Shawnee St. Paul’s.

The two churches took damage, but were both very lucky considering the lives and property completely destroyed by the storm.

The steeple from St. Paul’s landed on the church’s roof, damaging tile shingles, which are difficult to replace.

Wesley’s steeple landed in the parking lot, and many trees had to be removed due to storm damage. According to Dana Parker, the conference’s disaster response coordinator, St. Paul’s shares events with Wesley and Bethel, and since Bethel didn’t have damage, they provided lunch for the other churches as they assessed and worked on the damage.

A recovery plan is still in the works, since it takes time to deal with insurance adjusters, contractors, and more. The churches are figuring out what they need in the wake of the tornado.

Donation sites are set up, and an ERT team will go out in May to figure out what needs can be addressed by local churches.

Eventually, construction and case management teams will be needed as these two churches and their communities go through the recovery process.

Shawnee Wesley’s steeple sits in the parking lot of the church after an EF2 tornado tore through the city and broke the church’s steeple.
Shawnee St. Paul’s had a damaged window grate in addition to its steeple, which landed on the church’s roof.


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