Church in Our Town sees sign in storm

By Anna Carrera

Published 06/03 2014 03:41PM

Updated 11/12 2014 03:36PM

GIFFORD -- There are two churches in town. One is closer to downtown and was a major hub after November's tornado. The other is a little smaller and a bit further away. But it still has a unique story about bringing Our Town together after the storm. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has more.

People from both churches pitched in to help their neighbors. The pastor from the Methodist church was actually at the Lutheran church the day after the tornado. When her husband started digging through the rubble, he found something special. He walked all the way across town to show her in person.

From inside, the Gifford United Methodist Church looks like many others. Holy images adorn the walls and sounds of worship fill the chapel thanks to the pastor's husband, Bill Wiedman. But, just over Bill's shoulder every Sunday is a reminder of a different day.

"I had absolutely no idea of the damage, if the church was still standing or anything," said Bill.  

The day after the tornado touched down, Bill came to the church.

"What I wanted to do was make sure there were clear pathways for people to get into the church so they were able to come to a place of refuge," said Bill.  

While he was outside, he found an album sleeve on top of the leaves and other debris.  

"It was face up to me and the first thing I read was, 'Houses of the Holy,'" said Bill. "Over the noise of the heavy machinery and the chainsaws and everything else, there was just an eerie calm that I felt and I knew that Gifford would be fine."

In the calm after the storm, Bill found a message from a Led Zeppelin record cover. From it, his wife found inspiration.

"When I first saw it, it just gave me chills," said Bill's wife, Lisa. "There are two churches in this community and it said, 'Houses of the Holy.'"

Neither church was completely spared by the storm. St. Paul's Lutheran Church didn't have power for a special worship service the day after. And the Methodist church lost some trees.

"We have some siding damage," said Lisa. "And we have a really pretty blue tarp on top of the church right now."

But for the most part, each building weathered the storm. Pastor Lisa says there's a good reason for that.

"I know that God's hand was over the community and this just reaffirmed it," said Lisa.  

As for the feeling Bill got back in November, he says it was right on.

"Everybody's a little more together, more of a tight-knit community," said Bill.  

The record itself is still a mystery.

"I'm really waiting for somebody to say, 'I lost an album in the storm,'" said Bill.  

But Bill and Lisa say they'll always keep the piece of writing on their wall.

The song, Houses of the Holy isn't on the record. It actually ended up on Led Zeppelin's next album.

Bill and Lisa say they know other people have interesting stories about things they saw or found after the tornado. They're trying to compile them into a book.

To contact Bill and Lisa, email or call (217) 568 - 7700.

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