UPDATE: Tree falls on Knox Co. church, cuts it in half

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- A heartbreaking sight.

A 150 year old church destroyed.

The congregation, shocked.

And the pastor wondering where to go next.

A tree fell on New Antioch Baptist Church Tuesday night during the thunderstorm, splitting the sanctuary in half.

Volunteer TV's Lauren Davis has more.

It was sad to see the faces on the people who worshiped there for generations.

Everyone, parishioners and neighbors, pitched in today to do what they can.

A landmark for a century and a half, destroyed.

J.W. Lusk says, "I was devastated but it didn't hit me until a minute ago."

Pastor J.W. Lusk has lead the 100 member congregation at New Antioch Baptist in Northeast Knox County for nearly 50 years.

At daybreak this morning, he saw something tragic.

"Made it around the steps there and I broke down."

He wasn't the only one, dozens of neighbors and members stopped by, shocked and devastated by the sight of the place they called home for decades.

Mary Norton says, "this little church has been here forever and I mean forever."

Norton prayed for years her daughter would find the perfect church.

She says god led her here 2 months ago.

But this morning her daughter was crushed.

"She said Momma Momma my church has been destroyed just destroyed."

Helpers spent the day cleaning up, removing the pews, trying to salvage anything they could.

Lusk says he's, "just grateful for all the help."

As for the church that Pastor Lusk thinks is destroyed.

He says, "I'd like to rebuild, but it's not up to me it's up to the congregation I'm not the boss."

But he's the leader, and the congregation is leaning on him for support during this difficult time.

Pastor Lusk says services tonight are canceled.

He hopes to be able to worship on property this coming Sunday.

That depends on the insurance company.

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