By Emily Ham Price
Sitting at 115 N. 25th Ave. for more than 60 years, Westminster Presbyterian Church has been full of laughter, singing, praising and rejoicing.
But four months after an EF4 tornado tore through Hattiesburg, leaving the church battered and torn, it now is filled with the sounds of hammers, saws, cranes and construction workers.
The Rev. Steve Ramp said while he watches his church begin its reconstructive journey, he can still remember the destruction the Feb. 10 tornado left behind.
“It was so devastating at first to see the roof blown off and the bricks in the street,” Ramp said. “It was overwhelming, really.”
With Larry Albert acting as the project’s architect and Butch Nobles as the general contractor, Ramp said he and his congregation are excited to see the church restored to its former glory.
“It’s beginning to look like it’s feasible, and like it’s coming together,” Ramp said. “It’s neat to see (construction crews) preserving and enhancing what is here.”
Nobles said the destruction done to Westminster Presbyterian affected him on a personal level.
“I was emotionally in shock. We are also members of Westminster. (My wife) Cindy and I were married by the former pastor and our two daughters were baptized in the sanctuary. That was also why it was a difficult decision to take on this project, it is our close family,” he said. “Nobles Contracting was also the general contractor on the USM fence and landscape project, so we had tornado encounters twice.”