Portland United Methodist Church set to reopen this weekend

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PORTLAND, MI. (WLNS) – Portland United Methodist Church is reopening this weekend, eight months after a tornado severely damaged the building last June.

Vacuums are roaring and empty boxes fill the trash — signs that this Portland church will soon be reopen.

“We’re going to be back home in our church, you know. We really miss it,” said churchgoer John Tannery.

John Tannery has been part of the congregation at Portland United Methodist Church for more than 50 years.

He and his wife, Marylou, got married here in 1965 — and today, they’re helping with cleanup.

After last summer’s tornado hit Portland, the congregation has been practicing at a local theater.

And Tannery says it’s been tough to be away from his house of worship.

“It’s been kind of devastating, you know,” Tannery said. “We knew that the church was going to be put back together, it was just anxious to get it back together.”

And for Pastor Letisha Bowman, being anxious is an understatement. She was appointed only a few days after the tornado hit, and she’ll give her first sermon in the church on Sunday.

“We’ve not ever worshipped together in this space, and that will feel, that will feel wonderful,” Bowman said.

But there’s more work to do.

Wood still covers a window frame in the sanctuary, where a stained glass window used to be.

But restoring the windows will have to wait until the spring.

“The big one on this side was pushed in,” Bowman said. “We had several that were blown out. A number of them still have pieces hanging in place.”

Still, the church has had more progress than some others in the area.

And Tannery says, “The most exciting thing is getting back to church.”

Back to church — and home at last.

Bowman says in order to fix the windows and clean the yard outside, the church will have to wait until weather conditions improve in the spring.

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