Evansville church hosts first service since Weinbach explosion

Evansville church hosts first service since Weinbach explosion
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 10:54 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Just days since the deadly explosion occurred on Weinbach Avenue, the painful memories are still fresh for those in the surrounding neighborhood, and it may take a long time before their lives return to normal.

But leaders with Olivet Community Church and Oak Hill Bible Fellowship are trying to help people recover, while tending to their own damage.

Wednesday was just another normal afternoon for Pastor Dave Mills, who was in his office when he heard and felt a loud boom.

“It felt like a direct hit of a lightning bolt, as I would imagine that would feel like,” Mills said. “We didn’t know what happened. All of us stuck our heads out the door. We knew something terrible had happened.”

The blast damaged several windows and displaced ceiling tiles at the church, while inside the sanctuary, lights and speakers fell from the ceiling.

“We’re so blessed that it happened at a time when nobody was in the sanctuary,” Mills said. “We haven’t done an exact count, but probably 50 windows, and our sanctuary was significantly damaged. It was clear that it wasn’t our building, and we could see the smoke rising and made our way over to the blast site, to see if we could be of help over there.”

Olivet Community Church moved in with Oak Hill Bible Fellowship not too long ago, so the two congregations now share that building. Church leaders immediately became deeply engaged with their neighbors, which has been a blessing during this crisis.

“We had a lot of relationships already, so we just systematically checked on those people we were aware of,” Mills said.

They have become close friends with those working next door at Evansville Fire Station 4, as well as Vogel Elementary School down the road.

“Our congregation actually moved here to partner with this neighborhood,” Mills said. “It was so neat to see that parternship live out. Families that we have met and know in the area and reached out to us for help. The school reached out to help us, so we have just been blessed to partner with the fire department, the school – in meeting people’s needs.”

As so many families still try to heal mentally and physically, the church offered a perfect place to do just that.

Both Community Church and Oak Hill Bible Fellowship held services inside the gymnasium on Sunday.

“It was a feeling of joy and gratefulness, of compassion, for the families who have been devastated,” Mills said. “And so they came together today, to say are we okay? We’re okay.”

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