Revolution Church rallies after storm damage

April 17, 2023
By Alan Wild

When a line of severe storms passed through Louisville late in the afternoon on Wednesday, April 5, the strong winds ripped off part of the roof of the office building where Revolution Church is located. The rain poured in, causing extensive damage to the rooms on the upper second floor. The first-floor sanctuary also received some water damage.

Bad enough to face that kind of challenge anytime – much less during Holy Week. But the Rev. Rachel Wallace, Revolution’s senior pastor, and her staff and congregants have made the best of it. They decided to hold Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services in the church, as planned; 45 attended Thursday and 65 Friday, she said.

“People told me it was the most meaningful Good Friday and Maundy Thursday services that they’ve attended,” Wallace said in an interview. “There was something about sitting in the dark, cold, damp sanctuary by candlelight with no electricity to reflect on the misery of Good Friday.”

Those storms – which included a few brief spin-up tornadoes in the Louisville area – caused extensive damage across portions of the city, especially southern Louisville, where a man died when he was crushed by a falling tree. Revolution is located in Jeffersontown in eastern Jefferson County.

Several people were at the church at the time, Wallace said, including a Celebrate Recovery group and the Worship Team, which was practicing for Holy Week services. The wind ripped off part of the roof; one of the pieces of debris hit a church member’s truck and totaled it, she said. Fortunately, nobody was injured.

The church lost its nursery space, two kids’ classrooms, two offices and the coffee room, Wallace said. As of late last week, they were waiting to hear from the landlord on insurance adjustments and a timetable for repairs.

But in the midst of the upheaval have come glory sightings. One of the church’s neighbors came in on Maundy Thursday while they were loading a truck and offered to let them borrow – at no cost – tents, decorative cathedral windows and a homemade cross, allowing them to celebrate Easter outside on the front lawn. A total of 107 people attended, Wallace said.

Revolution also has a temporary home lined up – Middletown UMC, about 3½ miles away, has offered to let Revolution worship in its gymnasium until repairs are completed. Middletown happens to be the church where Wallace grew up, and her parents remain active there. Sunday was their first day worshipping there, with 110 in attendance. Revolution’s service time will remain 10 a.m.

The Rev. Gary Gibson, senior pastor at Middletown, reached out to Wallace within a couple of hours after the storm hit to make sure she was OK, and once he learned of the extent of the damage, he offered the Middletown gymnasium for worship space and the fellowship hall for the Celebrate Recovery ministry.

“We are the closest United Methodist Church to Revolution, so it made sense for them to use our facility,” Gibson said in an email. “When a neighbor is in need you step up and help any way you can. MUMC is grateful to be able to offer hospitality to Revolution. Local churches aren’t in competition, and we need to help each other out when we can.”

Wallace said: “I’m just really grateful for their hospitality. And it’s sweet because it’s my home church.”

Gibson mentioned another personal connection. He was senior pastor at Louisville’s St. Paul UMC in 2010 when a group of 75 people from the church planted Revolution. Wallace, who has served at Revolution since 2019, said the church draws people from across Louisville and nearby communities, as well as some from across the Ohio River in southern Indiana.

Recalling the outdoor service on Easter, Wallace said the Gospel message that day came from John 20, when Mary sees the resurrected Christ and tells the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” She said that being together outdoors that cold but sunny Easter morning was a powerful way for the Revolution family to reflect on how they also had seen the Lord.