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The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — When Senior Pastor Keith Jacobs first took his position at Regency Park Baptist Church in late 2002, the congregation was still about a month away from moving into a new building after losing their church to the May 3, 1999, tornado.
Moving to Moore from a town that had been unaffected by that storm, Jacobs was overwhelmed by the spirit of kindness and charity the community had shown his new church home during the rebuilding process.
Jacobs saw that same willingness to help revived this year after the May 20 tornado, but this time it was his congregation giving back to the community that had been there when they needed it most.
Since May, Regency Park has provided volunteer housing, collected donations, distributed clothing and opened their building to a daycare center destroyed by the storm.
“Back when we were rebuilding, we knew that if a tornado like the one we experienced happened again, we would want to be able to help,” Jacobs said. “God prepared us; the rebuilding process was a struggle, but we wouldn’t have been able to reach so many this year if we hadn’t been through that.”
When they rebuilt, Regency Park included showers and other amenities that enabled them to house volunteers.
In the first month following the storm, they averaged about 60 volunteer guests ranging from cooks to chaplains to cleanup crews. They continue to have about 15 volunteers staying with them at any given point.
In addition to providing housing, the church has opened its nursery to a nearby daycare center that lost its facility.
They have opened their Care Closet ministry to distribute clothing donations and food to those in need and collected donations from the community, as well.
From the time of the tornado through the end of July, Care Closet ministered to 1,182 families. At one point, they could not have regular Sunday school classes because the rooms were filled to the brim with items sent by donors from coast to coast.
Regency Park is located in north Moore near 27th Street and Shields Boulevard. The church sustained no damage in this year’s tornado.
Although several of the church’s approximately 300 members either lost their homes or received significant damage to their homes, the congregation suffered no fatalities and only one minor injury.
“We want our community to see Regency Park as evidence that you can come back after a tornado, better than before, and that there is hope for the future, if you will stay focused on God and trust Him,” Jacobs said. “We also want people to know that we are here for them and are going to walk with them to help them get back to where they need to be.”