Storm brings down tent, but revival meetings will continue

BENNINGTON — Strong winds may have taken down a ministry tent hosting an evangelist husband and wife's Christian revival, but that doesn't mean their prayers, sermon and music will stop.

Gusts during Tuesday night's thunderstorms ravaged the tent of G.W. and Carol Carroll, whose revival-style ministry will be at the Grace Christian School in Bennington through next week.

"We don't quit," G.W. Carroll, of Florida, said Wednesday afternoon. "The message has to go on, whether the tent goes up or not."

Organizers say the events — including G.W.'s sermon and music by Carol and volunteers with local churches and community members — will continue, either in the parking lot of the Kocher Drive school in the open air or under a new tent.

Tuesday's storm came on the second night of the two-week event, which is being held each weekday at 6:30 p.m. through Sept. 1. Strong gusts ripped two-foot-long tent stakes out of the ground and lifted the canvas up and off the center pole, bending numerous tent poles and driving at least one into the ground as the whole tent shifted to the north. G.W. Carrol estimated the storm caused some $12,000 in damage to the large tent.

"It means we've made the devil upset — he's trying to take us out," said local organizer Melanie Hickey.

Hickey and fellow organizer Shane Meaney worked to bring the Carrolls to Bennington, writing in a letter to local churches about problems the area faces, including drug and alcohol dependence and teen pregnancy. "This is a call to action to be the hands and the feet of Jesus and to put denominational differences aside and come together for our common goal: To reach a lost and dying world with the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ," they wrote.

Hickey said that after winds picked up at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday, G.W. Carroll continued praying and preaching with attendees away from the tent as, volunteers went around to check and re-check ropes load sound equipment into a truck.

The wind, Hickey said, "made the tent look like it was breathing."

Everyone returned from dinner later that night to find the tent collapsed, she said.

Hickey said organizers have spoken to area churches to try to find another tent to host the events. But services will continue in the parking lot of the school on Kocher Drive, she said.

"We're going to fight for our town and the people in it," she said. "This area needs it."

Reach staff writer Edward Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111 or @edamon_banner.


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