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News Disaster cloaked in “friendly” vendors

Disaster cloaked in “friendly” vendors

First Christian Church in Tupelo, MS after the April 2014 tornado

When a tornado came barreling down on Tupelo, Miss., in April 2014, it took the First Christian Church building, a couple of other churches and many other buildings with it. But, when the storm had passed, it wasn’t only rubble and a huge replacement construction project that was left in its wake.

Insurance and construction issues were waiting in the wings.

Shortly after the tornado, the church’s building committee met with its insurance company, which was also the carrier for the two other damaged churches across the street, and the church then met with a recommended contractor.

Ultimately, the congregation entered into a construction contract for an amount not to exceed the insurance proceeds. As the project progressed, however, the church building committee was informed that the project might cost more than the proceeds the church was going to receive, which left the church with no other options as construction had already begun.

Enter Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF) and our new Disaster Response service, which is designed to help churches with concerns around their buildings directly following a natural disaster (e.g. securing a site, navigating insurance, identifying reputable service providers, short-term bridge financing, etc.). Looking for help with their situation, First Christian Church called in DCEF Advisor Jim Michel, who has significant experience in building construction. He met with the contracting company’s representatives to talk with them about the project cost estimates and the construction practices being used. Jim worked with the construction representatives regarding the project and its costs.  Jim also encouraged the church to hire an outside attorney to review the contract and to work with the contractor to deliver the project at the original contract cost.

Sanctuary of First Christian Church in Tupelo, MSThe outcome? The building construction was completed within the original contract price and First Christian Church had their first worship service in the new space in January. Praise the Lord!

Says Jim, “DCEF is so pleased that we could help First Christian Church resolve this situation, especially because they had experienced enough trauma with the tornado.” He added, “The benefit of our Disaster Response service is that it’s designed to provide assistance within days of a disaster. I only wish we’d had the service in place when First Christian first needed it. I pray they never need it again!”

Eddie Wilhite, building committee chair of First Christian Church, describes his experience working with DCEF on this project,

“Jim Michel’s visit to us and his subsequent involvement in our construction process have proven invaluable. His knowledge of construction, along with his interaction with our contractor, helped us as we were not only dealing with a catastrophic loss, but also with unanticipated costs of construction.” Eddie adds, “FCC Tupelo, Miss., sends a tremendous thanks to DCEF for its help.”

DCEF has provided this fee-free service to eight churches and is now working with two congregations in Texas affected by the December 2015 tornadoes.


Please feel free to contact Jim, jmichel@disciplescef.org, 800.274.1883, with any questions or needs.

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