The congregation of Waverly Church of the Nazarene was among those hard-hit by record rainfall that took 20 lives and damaged hundreds of structures in the Tennessee town west of Nashville on August 21. This has not, however, stopped members of the congregation from ministering to the hurting of their community. Daron Brown, who has served as senior pastor of the flock for 20 years, is a long-time contributor to P&B eNews. He took time to send this report for our readers.
- On August 21, Waverly experienced flash flooding of 17+ inches in a few hours. Water rose quickly and people had little time to respond. Waverly sits low, in the bottom of a “bowl” surrounded by rivers with a creek system running through it. The main creek runs behind our church building. This is a recipe for disaster for a town when a flash flood comes. Twenty people lost their lives. I already have preached one funeral and expect to do a few more. Many homes and structures took on water up to the ceiling. Over 500 homes were flooded—several of them moved off of their foundations. The last I heard, 270 are total losses. About 40 families from our church, including two of our pastors, lost their homes.
As the rain started falling, some of us went to the church to barricade doors and move things to higher ground. When the water started rising over the barricades, several left, but six remained, and we were eventually trapped in the building from where we watched our vehicles float away. We prayed and ate communion wafers, because that is what we had.
The lower level of our sanctuary was filled with water, nearly to the ceiling, but our kids building was a total loss. We stripped and are drying the main building to make it functional for the short-term. For now, we are worshipping at the local movie theater.
Our church did not have flood insurance, because it is nearly impossible to afford it in a flood zone of this grade.
Every day since the flood, we have been meeting to work on our property and to send teams out to homes and other churches in the community. Most of our work has involved gutting homes that took on water.
Our people have been amazing. Several have commented on how we are serving the community although we are in crisis ourselves. The truth is, we do not know any other way to be. Before the flood, WCN was a missional church serving our community, and now our neighbors needs us more than ever. This is what it means for us to be the church.
- We are grateful for the show of support from our sisters and brothers around the globe. I often tell my members how the Church of the Nazarene is a connectional body, and now our denomination is proving this point to my congregation. We are grateful for the prayers, the expressions of support, the monetary donations, and the assistance with labor.
- This will take years to overcome. Our town will never be the same. Fortunately, we already have property and plans to move to a location on higher ground. We will not remain at this location, but we will continue to be the congregation this community needs us to be.
- God has reminded me, over and over through this that He is present, He is faithful, and He is good. I am living in His presence, His faithfulness, and His goodness in these days.
Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and Work & Witness have geared up to assist in Waverly and at the Tennessee District camp, which was also affected, in Dickson. Additionally, contributions may be made for flood recovery at the church’s website, wcntn.com.