A Year Later, Cross a Symbol of Joplin's Hope

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One year after a deadly tornado destroyed their church home, members of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Joplin, Mo., are ready to break ground on a new building.

Rev. Aaron Brown said his congregation is preparing now to lay foundation for a new church, as well as send money and volunteers to help fellow tornado victims.

"God will use what we've been through to show the world who He is," Brown said Sunday.

More than two dozen other churches were destroyed in the a powerful EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin on May 22, 2011. The storm killed at least 161 people, completely destroyed nearly 7,000 homes, and damaged more than 850 others.

A large cross was all that was left from St. Mary's Catholic Church after the tornado passed. The cross has now become a symbol of hope for the community and will soon be part of a small park. St. Mary's is also in the process of being rebuilt.

"I just looked and I thought, God is really with us, and He's letting us know He's going to take care of us," St. Mary's Father Justin Monaghan said.

"It was tremendous. It was a real gift to see that [cross], and it became a symbol all over the community, in fact all over the world," he continued.

Faith has been an integral part of Joplin as residents continue to mend one year later.

Also Sunday, hundreds of residents gathered for a dramatic reading of the book of Job performed by award-winning actors Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn, and Arliss Howard.

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