Historic RPCNA Church Building Destroyed by Tornado

Please keep our brothers and sisters in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America in prayer as they deal with recent destruction of a long-standing church building. We hope to be able to come alongside this church in their distress and will provide updates as more information is made available.

On January 13, 2023, members of Selma Reformed Presbyterian Church in Selma, Alabama received news that their 145-year-old church building had been destroyed by a devastating tornado that ripped through the Southern United States the previous day.

Interim Moderator Rev. Adam Niess and Former Selma RPC Pastor Rev. Bob Hemphill wrote a social media update:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thank you for praying for the saints in Selma, Alabama, as they recover from the tornado that struck their city on Thursday, January 12, 2023. By God’s grace, all the members of Selma RPC are safe and their homes have been preserved. The church building, however, has experienced tremendous damage and is a total loss. The parsonage next to the church building has also endured great damage. This is a sad providence, given the many years the congregation worshiped there, but they are trusting in the Lord’s sovereign goodness nonetheless.

We know that many of you would like to help, but at this point there is nothing for you to do for them other than pray. The elders are meeting with their insurance adjuster on Tuesday and should know more then. While there may be a time soon when they will need physical help in person, now is not the time for any of us to make a trip to Selma. If you would like to help financially (even though the financial needs, if any, are still unknown), the Trustees of Synod have organized a way for you to do so.

The Trustees of Synod are communicating with the Selma congregation in order to determine the best way the church and individuals of the RPCNA can help. If funds will be needed, you can send checks in care of Trustees of the Synod RPCNA, 7408 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15208. You may want to wait until the needs are better understood, and we will send out information when that is known.

The church in Selma is grateful for your prayers, loving concern, and desire to help. As their needs become more definite, we will share them with you. Until then, as the dust settles, let us keep them before the Lord’s throne of grace. Thank you!

Selma RPC is a part of OPC sister denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America (RPCNA).

Selma RPC maintains a rich history, as it’s founding pastor, Rev. Lewis Johnston, was the first African American to be ordained in the RPCNA. Johnston originally came to Selma in 1874 in order to establish a school and preach to freedmen. A church was eventually built in 1878 and the congregation there remains today as the only predominantly African American congregation on the RPCNA.


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