Harrisburg raises relief funds, hope

By Tara Kulash

Harrisburg High School’s Davenport Gymnasium was packed Sunday night as the community came together for comfort.

After an EF4 tornado ripped through the town Wednesday and killed six residents, the Harrisburg Ministerial Alliance organized a worship and prayer service at the high school. More than 800 people showed up to the event, and the Harrisburg Ministerial Alliance Disaster Relief Fund raised $6,200 by the end of the night, said the Rev. Chris Winkleman, senior pastor at the First Baptist Church in Harrisburg.

He said it was important for the community to come together for the first time to grieve.

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“It was a chance to worship and pray and cry together,” Winkleman said. “It was a really good thing.”

Several pastors spoke at the service.

The Rev. David Higgs of Dorrisville Baptist Church said the event was to pray for the families who lost loved ones.

“But it’s much larger than that,” he said. “All of us need much greater than the physical. It’s spiritual and eternal, and we’re pointing toward that in Jesus.”

The Rev. Barry Steed with the Little Chapel Church gave his report of Harrisburg’s condition. He said those who don’t have anything were there to give everything to their neighbors, and he started to see heroes in citizens.

“In Saline County, we’re not exactly politically correct, but we can say God saved us,” Steed said.

The crowd gave a standing ovation to that comment.

In between prayers and speeches, the audience sang worship songs and watched a slideshow memorial of the six who were killed.

One family in the front row embraced each other in tears as they grieved for the loss of Mary Ruth Osman, 75.

Dena McDonald, Osman’s daughter, came from Nineveh, Ind., with her family and said God is getting her through the loss.

“We know my mom would want us to get through this,” she said.

McDonald said she has a strong family anyway, but the community support has been amazing.

Darrell Osman, Mary Ruth Osman’s son, said he’s doing as well as can be expected.

He said he agreed the community has been a big help.

“The outpouring of support has been overwhelming,” he said.

Little Chapel Church member, Kyle Harbison, 24, said it’s nice to have a revival of togetherness.

“People worry too much about differences and not coming together as one,” he said.

Buckets were passed around the gym as members made donations to the disaster relief fund, and attendees were invited to the floor if they wanted a pastor to personally pray with them.

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