HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, Ark. (KTHV) - The pastor and members of Walnut Valley Baptist Church are of one accord. They are thankful for the new church building. It was last year on April 25 when a tornado changed their church forever; but the pastor calls it a blessing in disguise.

Maddie Gilleran is 8-years-old, but already knows what it's like to lose something important to you. She says, "It was sad but it'sOK because we got to have church at a school and they were nice and we still got to praise God." She is one of many members of Walnut Valley Baptist Church in Hot Springs Village.

A tornado nearly destroyed the church last April. As they approach the one year anniversary, Pastor Tim Forrest of the church says it seems surreal. He says, "On one hand it seems like it was so long ago on the other it seems like it was just yesterday because we were so busy you didn't even have time to think."

Now, the congregation is back in a new building and ready to serve. He found a positive way to look at the loss of their church. He says it's allowed them to grow and help others in their time of need. Forrest says, "We immediately saw an opportunity to help others because not only was our church destroyed but a lot of homes were damaged and the best way to work through a hardship is to serve."

Members like Sandra Phillips are excited about their new and improved facility and look forward to the future. She says, "It's wonderful, it's better than before if you can imagine."

Phillips is not alone in her opinion, Maddie is right there with her. Maddie says, "It's exciting because we get to see new things."

It took Walnut Church about six months to rebuild. The new building and all the remodeling it cost just over $1 million.

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