Mayfield tornado victims gather for Christmas mass

It’s been a tough December for many in America’s Heartland who were affected by severe weather. 

Mayfield, Kentucky, was hit especially hard after an EF-4 tornado caused devastating damage earlier in the month.

All across the world, congregations came together to celebrate Christmas.

Reverend Joey Reed for the First United Methodist Church in Mayfield says they are gathering on Christmas Eve, "To celebrate one of the highest and holiest moments in the life of the church."

During the service, "What we’ll do is read through several of the passages that point to Christmas and then read the Christmas story itself," Reed says.

But for the congregation of First United Methodist Church in Mayfield, this Christmas Eve service meant a little more.

"No matter how many pictures you’ve seen, it does not prepare you," Reed said.

On December 10, the tornado ripped through Mayfield, killing dozens as it tore apart the town.

"We heard the furniture being picked up and thrown around, and I honestly thought that the chairs were being thrown against the walls, but the sounds that I was hearing was the roof of the sanctuary coming down," Reed said. 
He took shelter in their church as the tornado hit.

"Where we were inside, that closet was heavily protected. Maybe not just with steel and stone of the structure. We were praying just as hard as we could," Reed said.

The tornado destroyed their church and the lives of so many in his congregation.

"Individuals in here have lost family members, homes, everything," church member Hillary Bacon said.

But Christmas Eve offered a chance to gather together, in a different church, but still together.

"Being around each other is something that we really need right now more than ever," Bacon said.

Being back in the church brought a piece of normalcy and tradition amid so much chaos.

"It’s special from a sense of reflection of what’s important," another church member, Jeremy Phillips, said.

Because at the end of the day, a church isn’t just a floor, walls and a roof.

"If I’m a baker, I need a bakery. If I’m a grocer, I need a grocery," Reed said. "But I’m a pastor. And really, all that’s required of a pastor is to have people."

On this Christmas Eve, people gathered, bringing a little light into the world together after so much darkness.
It’s unclear when this church will be able to rebuild, but the church continues to help the community.

This week they handed out $10,000 in gift cards to people in an area hardest hit by the tornado.