PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — For 25 years, Harvest Worship Center members, prayed, sang, and worshiped inside their 11,000 square foot sanctuary — until Hurricane Michael.
Now, as the church begins the process of being rebuilt, its pastor looks forward to getting back inside the place he called home for so many years.
Pastor John Ramsey, senior pastor of Harvest Worship Center, said the sanctuary that kept them safe during the storm actually originated as a shelter.
“We had used this building for many many hurricanes, Ramsey said. “Before they built Tommy Smith Elementry, this was the Red Cross Hurricane Shelter fo many storms and we rode them out fine.”
But even though it was massive and built to last, it was no match for a category five destroyer.
“This is where my family was as the building began to give way, we really wondered if the building was going to stand up,” Ramsey said. “When I began to see daylight come through the corners, I knew that part of the building had racked.”
Ramsey’s family along with 20 others ran to the safest place they could think of.
“We hid in these little holes under the platform. About 10 or 12 people on each side,” Ramsey said. “And we waited out the storm and thankfully the building, you know even though it suffered significant damage, it sheltered us from one more storm.
But since Michael, it sat empty, damaged, and waiting to be torn down forcing the church to move all services to a smaller building.
Ramsey expects the process to take another two years.
“We’re hoping that demo will be finished in the next 30 days or so and then we start the process of planning and permitting,” Ramsey said. “We’re anticipating about six months on that. And then a year to build.”
The church had insurance but, like many, it did not cover wind damage. Most of their rehab money is coming from a FEMA grant, but it won’t be enough.
“You still have to come up with a lot of it yourself and that’s where we need a lot of help,” Ramsey said. “Anyone that wants to donate can go to Harvestchurchpanamacity.com and donate or they can contact me on Facebook or on our website.”
Ramsey said, in total, they need to raise $700,000 in order to meet their budget.