Early Saturday morning, April 18, Pastor Katurah York Cooper received a phone call. A fierce thunderstorm had ripped the steel trusses from the walls of her church, the Empowerment Temple sanctuary of the African methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and removed over one-third of the roof of the edifice.
Pastor Cooper, along with church members, rushed to the church to behold gaping holes in the roofing sheets, water flooding the sanctuary and offices, broken plastic chairs, galvanized steel trusses ripped from the beams and zinc sheets flung across the yard as far as 250 feet from the edifice.
The rainy season in Liberia is off to a rather violent start this year, with several thunderstorms already logged between March and April.
Given the weight of the steel trusses — for them to be ripped off the concrete structure by the wind and flung across the Tubman Boulevard — Pastor Cooper considers it a blessing that the projectiles did not harm anyone or cause damage to neighboring properties.
The Empowerment Temple, located at Sophie Junction, along the Tubman Boulevard in Congo Town, was not the only structure affected by storm on April 18. The storm wreaked havoc on many other (mainly domestic) structures in and around Monrovia, claiming the attention of the Government of Liberia to provide disaster relief to affected households across Monrovia and its environs.
The church had already suspended its worship services since the Government of Liberia issued a call to suspend public gatherings including religious, educational and other such groupings as part of emergency measures to stop the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease.
“If we were to have service the following day (Sunday, April 19), we would have been embarrassed,” Pastor Cooper said.
Empowerment Temple AME Church was established by Dr. Katurah York Cooper in 2001. In 2005, the church began renovation at the Congo Town location, transforming it into a 3-story edifice which accommodates the offices of their NGO, Helping Our People Excel (HOPE) and the Elementary School, the JHB HOPE Academy. The Empowerment Temple congregation began worshipping at the Congo Town location in 2008.
The renovated church building is designed to be a convergence point for people across Liberia to develop their faith their talents and their communities for the Kingdom of God, Pastor Cooper said.
According to her, the church has already assessed the damage, which includes water damage to furniture and other church assets, estimated at approximately US$16,000.
“We are distressed but not without hope, believing that God will touch the hearts of people to assist in the restoration of the Lord’s house,” she said. “We are also thankful for the outpouring of prayers and willingness of many to make a donation towards restoring our roof so we can worship in our sanctuary.”
Anyone interested in making contribution to the repairs at the Empowerment Temple AME Church are asked to kindly contact Pastor Cooper via email: [email protected] or call 0777519930.