NewsPolk County


Lakeland church destroyed by tornado feeds hundreds of families in need a year later

Posted at 3:58 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 18:21:09-05

LAKELAND, Fla. — A year after an EF-2 tornado destroyed Mt. Tabor Baptist Church, the congregation is still feeding hundreds of families in need.

“It’s a struggle, but we’re making it work,” said Pastor Matt Gilmore.

The main building has been repaired.

RELATED: Tornado-ravaged Lakeland church hits roadblock rebuilding food bank

“We have new paint, new roof, some of the rooms have been redone,” Gilmore said. “We are excited about the future.”

The future includes a brand-new family life center and a 1,400 square foot food pantry.

The best part, according to Gilmore, “We received a $15,000 grant from the United Way to pay for that.”

The church is working with the county to get the paperwork in order, so crews can stop building. But, for now, they’re using the space behind the church to run their food pantry.

They have a huge walk-in freezer, a shed to store their non-perishable items. Gilmore said the church purchased a box truck so they could pick up the food from food banks, instead of paying someone to do it.

“The community, our neighbors help a lot,” he said. “Someone asked me what I learned from this, I said when times are difficult the best of us comes out, and we’ve seen that in the community and our members.”

Gilmore is hoping to start construction soon.

He said no matter what, “we’re going to continue to do what God called us to do. We are not stopping.”