A church community in Kentucky has found a symbol of hope still standing in the rubble of their house of worship after the church suffered catastrophic damage from a tornado last week.
An altar featuring a carving of Michelangelo's The Last Supper remained undamaged at the First Christian Church of Mayfield while the rest of the building was torn apart on Dec. 10 from tornadoes that have killed at least 64 people across six states.
The altar serves as the church's communion table.
"It’s the center of our worship experience," the church's senior minster, Dr. Milton West, said on the 3rd hour of TODAY Monday. "It survived along with a cross that sits on it.
"Our goal for the day is we hope to get it out of the building and preserve it along with a few other artifacts. Our building is rapidly losing what little structural integrity it has left, so we are going to try to get at least that out today before we do anything else."
"The table of the Lord is intact," the church wrote on Facebook alongside photos of the altar.
Four families from the parish had their homes destroyed by the tornado while others sustained damage and had their automobiles destroyed, according to West. No one from the parish is known to have died as of Monday.
Two days after the tornado hit, the congregation gathered for a prayer service on Monday in the church parking lot.
"I think they’re beginning to cope with the reality of what has happened, and they’re certainly grieving and sad over the loss," West said. "We are doing what we can to keep people’s spirits up."
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West shared the message he has delivered to the parishioners in the wake of the devastation.
"What you try to do is have them reframe, rethink what it all means and not to overinterpret it," he said. "There are a lot of people out there who would say that this is a sign from God that something is wrong. We do not embrace that notion at all. Our faith is positive, and God is never the author of bad things in people’s lives."
West said those looking to help the church can search for it on the Biblify app and follow prompts to support the rebuild.
"We grieve, we cry and we hug and we pull ourselves together and go to the next step of trying to recover and rethink where we want to be as a church, but our people have stayed strong during all of this," he said.
West believes one silver lining is that the tragedy can unite people during a time of fractured "political, theological, personal views."
"I think this gives people an opportunity to pull together for the common good," he said. "Those differences don’t matter when you’re trying to rebuild your lives. I think we’re going to see that diminish here in Mayfield for quite some time."