Anyone who has called Nashville home in the past several years remembers two major natural disasters: the May 2010 flood and the April 1998 tornado. The flood is still fresh in our minds each time we have heavy rain; in some places, if you know where to look, you can still see debris. On April 16, 1998 tornadoes spun all over middle TN, all day. I rose early that Thursday morning to the sound of weather alerts on the radio (650 AM of course). The alerts were a constant all day.
I lived upstairs at Central Church downtown. I wove quite a path through alleys and at least three wrong-ways on one-way streets to get home that night. It was surreal: no power, no lights save for police and fire vehicles and, most of all, it was so scary-quiet. Glass shards, leaves, fiberglass insulation, paper, wood, mud, water…it was all mixed thoroughly and plastered liberally across the whole of downtown. East Nashville was heavily hit, which brings me to this clip:
This clip is an excerpt from a very well-done Nashville Public Television production on local religious architecture. It, and an accompanying book, are worth the investment for Nashvillians who pass these buildings each day. For anyone interested in church architecture Designed for Worship proves itself a fine model of how substantive architectural discussion can be presented in an accessible form all the while maintaining high standards of aesthetic and editorial excellence.
The clip below explores how historic church architecture lives with its community. Focusing mainly on St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in East Nashville, they weave a compelling narrative of how hope emerged from displacement and of how new life replaced acute loss.
Look for the Russell Street Church of Christ to make a brief appearance at 3:01 and 3:15. This tornado more or less ended Russell Street’s congregational life. Never able to financially recover, they closed a short while later, thereby ending almost 110 years of ministry on Russell Street.